This is a sponsored post by Whole Foods who asked me to create an untraditional grilled dish for 4th of July. Grilled watermelon was at the top of my list because I wanted something easy, allowing me to relax and enjoy my guests. Another post for a grilled peaches dessert is coming soon.
A couple of weeks ago, some friends in Tahoe invited us to dinner. Another friend of theirs was driving over with a cooler of halibut he'd caught in Alaska for an evening of epic grilling. I was to bring dessert (No-Bake Margarita Pie with a Pretzel Crust, in case you're wondering), and on a whim I grabbed a quarter chunk of watermelon along with a bottle of chilled white wine as we dashed out the door. I'd never grilled watermelon, but seriously, how hard could it be? Just throw it on the grill, and bingo baby, you have a healthy side dish perfect for summer.
Turns out, this was optimistic.
When we finished, the fish was tender and perfectly seared, but the watermelon was mushy, tasteless, and broken up from where it stuck to the grill. Dinner was long gone, and there sat a pile of my largely uneaten grilled watermelon on the table. “It was really interesting”, said the hostess. “Mmmm” said the host, hoping I might excavate a compliment from his single, vague syllable. I immediately owned up to the miserable side dish it was, and a sigh of collective relief blew around the table with everyone agreeing a little too whole-heartedly.
Determined to figure out this deceptively simple grilled dish, back to the drawing board I went. Most melons benefit greatly from a lime-mint combo, and watermelon is no exception. Try it on cantaloupe if you don't believe me. So this was my super-easy solution for better flavor along with a little salt. Some folks add honey to the lime juice, so purely in the interest of research, I tried that combination too. My opinion: I felt the honey detracted from the sharpness of the lime – mint combination, and for me it didn't work.
Onto the biggest issue: texture. The secret here is having a well-heated grill, so that you're just searing the melon, not cooking it. The watermelon shouldn't be on the grill for more than 2 minutes per side. Oh, and oil the grill to keep the melon from sticking. No huge groundbreaking breakthroughs here, but important guidelines all the same if you don't want your grilled watermelon to be a wallflower.
Grilled Watermelon with Lime and Mint
- 1 medium seedless watermelon sliced into 1-inch thick wedges
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for oiling the grill
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and salt.
- Heat up the grill on high, with the cover closed, until the grate is searing hot – about 10 minutes. Oil the grate by pouring a little olive oil on a triple layer of paper towels. Quickly rub the paper towels on the grates where you plan to sear the watermelon.
- Generously brush the watermelon with the lime mixture on one side only. Arrange the melon wedges, basted side facing down on the grate. Baste the top of the wedges with the lime mixture. Grill 2 minutes per side.
- Arrange on a serving plate, drizzle them with the remaining lime mixture, and sprinkle with the mint.