Watermelon in a main dish? Yup. In Grilled Watermelon Scallop Shish Kabobs, watermelon is a colorful and intriguing co-star, providing an unusual counterpoint to simply grilled scallops.
I’m a confirmed watermelon fan. Whether it’s in an elegant dessert or a fun appetizer, a drink, a soup(gazpacho), or a popsicle, I find watermelon a delightful ingredient in just about any summer meal. But figuring out how to put it in a main dish is more of a challenge.
And of course, I like nothing more than a challenge. So when our July Progressive Eats host, Carol, decided on watermelon as the month’s theme, my contribution just had to be a watermelon-inspired main dish.
BTW – Carol is new to our group. So go check out her wonderful blog and enjoy her creativity there and in this online community.
I’m intrigued by the transformation of juicy, crispy watermelon when it cooks. The outside gets warm and less crispy, but the inside still retains a bit of crunch. Although watermelon has a tendency to fall apart if cooked for a long time, you can use it in stir fries and curry.
From Challenge to Watermelon Main Dish
Summer is high grilling season in my house. So it was easy to decide how to cook my main dish. Besides, watermelon takes on a nice seared look on the outside when grilled, a look I particularly like.
When choosing my main dish, next I had to decide on the main ingredient to go with watermelon. I focused on fish and shellfish, because they are mild and nicely take on flavors from a marinade or sauce. I happened to have scallops, and figured they would do well on the grill.
After that was choosing the flavor profile. I settled on spicy sweet as one that would complement and not overwhelm my two main ingredients. BTW – For ideas on what herbs and spices to use with watermelon, check out my watermelon pairing guide.
Finally, I came the shape of the dish. With a history of loving shish kebabs or kebobs and several years supply of bamboo skewers on hand, naturally I gravitated to skewering the watermelon and scallops.
The result is Grilled Watermelon Scallop Shish Kabobs. The sauce is spicy and just a bit sweet, the scallops are tender and the watermelon is quite refreshing.
Before we get to the recipe, a few tips on grilling both scallops and watermelon. (For more detail, check out this Food52 article. While I didn’t follow every last one of its scallop grilling tricks, the article is worth reading.)
Tips on How to Grill Watermelon & Scallops
- Watermelon – Cut the watermelon into thick pieces. If the watermelon (on skewers or in slices) is too thin, it will disintegrate.
- Scallops – Dry them super well before grilling. Damp scallops do not get those nice grill marks. (Use a paper towel to dry them.
- Skewers – Using double skewers is the best way to anchor the watermelon and scallops. Otherwise, they tend to spin around and risk falling off the skewers.
- Separate them – Watermelon and scallops do not cook at the same rate, so keep them on separate skewers or put the watermelon directly on the grill in slices.
- The sauce – Don’t marinate either the watermelon or the scallops in the sauce, which would make them water-logged. You can lightly brush the sauce on the watermelon before grilling. However, for scallops, don’t add it until the last minute on the grill or drizzle it on only after cooking.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Each recipe in our menu this month features foods using watermelon as an ingredient. Our host this month is Carol, the creator of From a Chef’s Kitchen.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious summery watermelon dishes!
- Honey and Lime Melon Skewers with Mint – The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Watermelon Salad with Toasted Pecans and Gorgonzola Cheese – Creative Culinary
- Watermelon and Burrata Salad – The Redhead Baker
- Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Watermelon – Tomato Salsa – From A Chef’s Kitchen
- Grilled Watermelon Scallop Shish Kabobs – Mother Would Know
- Wazpacho AKA Watermelon Gazpacho – That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet – Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Grilled Watermelon Scallop Shish Kebobs
This easy summer dish turns watermelon and scallops into a spicy sweet main dish in no time at all.
- 4 large pieces of watermelon, either cut into cubes or sliced
- 8 large sea scallops
- 1 /4 cup fresh lime juice. From about 1 & 1/2 medium-large limes
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 - 1 & 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce or similar spicy sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt. About 1 large pinch
- 6-8 leaves fresh mint, rolled into cigar shapes and cut into ribbons for garnish on cooked watermelon
- neutral, high heat oil for grill
Pre-heat the grill. If using charcoal and a chimney fire-starter, once coals are hot, spread them out. Oil the grate to prevent scallops from sticking.
Put watermelon cubes (if using cubes) and scallops on skewers, using two skewers for each set of cubes and scallops.
Mix the lime juice, honey, vinegar, chili garlic sauce and salt. If the ingredients do not come together well, microwave for a few seconds on low power and then stir. Set the mixture aside.
Brush the watermelon (on skewers or in slices) lightly with the sauce. Grill the watermelon for 2-3 minutes on high heat, then turn them over to grill the other side. Add the dry scallops. Cook the scallops for about 4 minutes, then turn them over for just about 2 minutes on the second side, just until they are white and barely opaque. Brush the scallops with a bit of sauce only at the end. While the goal is to get the watermelon and scallops done at the same time, be vigilant as they cook, and take each off as it looks done, even if the timing is not exactly the same for both.
Garnish the watermelon with the ribbons of fresh mint and serve with rice (or rice noodles) and a green salad.
If you don't have an outside gas or charcoal grill, you can make this on the stove top, preferably using a cast iron ribbed grill to get the same grill marks as pictured. If you don't have an indoor grill, use a lightly greased, heavy pan without the skewers for the watermelon and/or scallops.
Even with 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of chili garlic sauce, I didn't find the spicy sweet sauce too spicy. Try it with 1 teaspoon first, then add more as desired.
I find recipes annoying that require just a few fresh herb leaves if you don't have them easily available. Therefore, I listed the mint leaves as optional. Still, if at all possible, use them; they really add a refreshing and nice touch to the finished dish.