How to Use Watermelon on Summer Menus

Summer is almost here, bringing with it sunshine, vacations and refreshing watermelon.

There are dozens of ways to integrate watermelon into your menu, apart from the typical "watermelon pizza" we've seen all over the internet.

Not only is watermelon delicious, it also contains more healthy lycopene (the powerful antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables their red color) than tomatoes.

Did you know that you can eat the entire watermelon, rind and all? This is particularly exciting for chefs who want to cut down on waste.

According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the watermelon's rind (usually about 30% of the fruit) can be stir-fried, stewed or pickled, and makes a delicious and healthy slaw packed with the amino acids citrulline and arginine.

Let's explore a few creative options for adding watermelon to your summer menu. Then you can start experimenting.

Watermelon Caprese Salad

(Photo: National Watermelon Promotion Board)

With its high levels of lycopene, the National Watermelon Promotion Board suggests making a summertime swap out of tomatoes for watermelon in your caprese salad. You may be surprised at how well the sweet fruit pairs with mozzarella and balsamic.

Watermelon Salad

(Photo: Grimaldi's Pizzeria)

At Grimaldi's Pizzeria, fresh arugula, watermelon, mint, cucumber and feta cheese are combined with a watermelon vinaigrette for the pizzeria's Watermelon Rocket Salad. This refreshing summertime salad is a healthy and delicious option alone or pre-pizza.

Watermelon Sangria

(Photo: Olive Garden)

At Olive Garden, one of the favorite summertime beverages is the chain's Watermelon Sangria, which blends chilled Moscato with watermelon and a splash of ginger ale.

Looking for more watermelon menu inspiration? Check out this slideshow from USA Today that lists 100 watermelon menu ideas.

How will you serve watermelon this year?