Watermelon Rind Salad Recipe

Toss crisp watermelon rind, marinated in rich flavors, with fresh watermelon cubes for a refreshing side salad.



September/ October 2017

  • The watermelon rind in this Thai Watermelon Salad takes on a flavor profile similar to green papaya.
    Photo by Clay McLachlan

Total Hands-On Time: 35 min

Preparation Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 15 min

Yield: 6 servings

This refreshing salad is excellent with grilled meat and seafood. With a flavor profile similar to that of Thai green papaya or banana blossom salad, this recipe takes advantage of crisp, refreshing watermelon rind, which is marinated in a mixture of lemongrass syrup, lime juice, basil, fresh chilies and fish sauce. After the rind has absorbed all the flavors, you toss it with cubes of fresh watermelon for a juicy dish that I find difficult to stop eating, as the sweet watermelon plays against the savory, spicy and tart flavors. If you can find mâche, a tender dark green lettuce, it adds beautiful contrasting color and even more juicy crunch to the combination. Note: Most recipes that call for lemongrass only use the bulbous white bottom parts, but here you can use the leftover top parts of the stalks, or use 2 whole lemongrass stalks. You will have some leftover syrup, which is delicious in cocktails, lemonade or desserts.

Ingredients:

Lemongrass Syrup
• 1/2 cup mild honey
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/2 cup lemongrass, cut in 1-inch pieces, from the tops of 4 stalks

Salad
• 3 pounds seedless watermelon, unpeeled
• 3 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 to 3 juicy limes), divided
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
• 2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot
• 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil, preferably Thai basil
• 1 serrano chili, chopped
• 2 to 4 cups mâche or baby spinach

Instructions:

1. To make syrup, place honey and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until honey dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemongrass stalks, return to simmer, and cook until lemongrass flavor is infused into syrup, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool, then strain.

2. To make salad, remove rind from watermelon. Chop melon flesh into 3/4-inch cubes (you should have around 4 cups) and refrigerate until serving. Cut rind into julienne strips until you have 2 cups. Place in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons lemongrass syrup, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, shallot, basil and half the serrano. Toss to combine, then cover and marinate, refrigerated, for 1 to 3 hours.

3. To serve, combine watermelon cubes with marinated rind and its juices. Season with remaining lime juice, fish sauce and serrano, to taste. Add greens and toss gently. Serve immediately while cold.

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