Watermelon all by itself is pretty good. At a barbecue, picnic or just sitting “on the stoop” as we used to do, there is nothing nicer than a slice of cool watermelon on a hot summer’s day.
But I can never resist getting adventurous with ingredients. With a nice selection of herbs and spices in my kitchen, and fresh herbs on the back deck and in stores, I wanted to pair it with flavors not normally associated with watermelon.
And so, my quest began. Although I intended to do just a few pairings, as the post title indicates, I didn’t stop at 5, 10 or even 20 watermelon herb/spice pairings.
After consulting lists on Wikipedia and The Kitchn (a site I love for its quirky and interesting non-recipe articles on food), I developed my own list of 58 herbs and spices. Beginning with anise hyssop and ending with vanilla, they run the gamut from ones I use frequently to others, such as asafoetida, that I had to look up.
In the end, my list might not be yours exactly (as I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few that skipped my attention), but it’s pretty comprehensive. For details on most of the herbs and spices below, check the descriptions on The Kitchn’s Herb and Spice Guide.
Then I looked for recipes that use the specified herbs and spices with watermelon. What began as a random stroll through the list soon turned into a rather obsessive interest in finding a recipe for each herb or spice. Think of this as the Flavor Bible gone mad or a madwoman’s quest through Google to see if she could find the end of the watermelon section of the internet.
And so, here is my definitive watermelon herb & spice pairing guide. Use this compilation to enjoy watermelon in every course and with every herb and spice.
You’ll find recipes from famous chefs and others from little-known bloggers. There are condiments, beverages, appetizers, soups, main courses, and desserts. Some of the recipes are incredibly simple, while others take more culinary experience. If you like watermelon and want to experiment, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find at least one recipe on this list that will entice you.
Watermelon Herb & Spice Pairing Guide
Anise Hyssop – Fancy Watermelon Appetizers with Chevre and Anise Hyssop
Anise Seeds – Watermelon Pudding
Allspice – Alton Brown’s Watermelon Rind Pickles
Bay leaf – Tuna Watermelon Crudo
Black Sesame Seeds – Watermelon with Dry Toasted Black Sesame Seeds
Cayenne Pepper – Real Simple’s Spicy Watermelon with Pistachios
Chervil – Watermelon Chervil Candy
Chia Seeds – Chia Seed Juice
Chile Pepper – Watermelon with Chile Pepper, Salt & Lime
Cilantro – Watermelon Mint Salsa (with Cilantro)
Cinnamon – Cinnamon and Watermelon Granita
Cloves – Watermelon Relish
Coriander Seed – Chilled Papaya and Watermelon Soup with Lemon Coriander Cream
Curry Leaves – Watermelon Rind Salna (curry)
Fenugreek – Watermelon and Sprouted Fenugreek Pappu (dal)
Garlic Powder – Chili Calamari with Watermelon and Cucumber Salad
Ginger – Watermelon and Ginger Limeade
Gochugaru (Korean red pepper) – Watermelon, Feta, Watercress Salad with Gochugaru Vinaigrette
Grains of Paradise (taste like cross between cardamom, citrus & black pepper) – Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad with Grains of Paradise
Juniper Berries – “Curiously Strong” Watermelon Balls
Kaffir Lime Leaves – Watermelon Infused with Kaffir Lime Vodka
Lemon Grass – Thai Spiced Watermelon Soup with Crabmeat
Lemon Thyme – Watermelon Lemon Thyme Martinis
Loomi (also known as dried or Black Limes or Black Lemons or Omami Lemons) – Watermelon, Cherry and Mint Salad with Rosewater, Dried Limes and Pistachio
Mace (same plant as nutmeg) – Watermelon Ketchup
Mint – Watermelon Agua Fresca
Mustard Seeds – Williams Sonoma’s Watermelon Rind Pickles
Nigella Sativa (also called onion seed or kaloji) – Tuna Watermelon Ceviche
Parsley – Easy Watermelon Gazpacho
Pink Pepper – Grilled Watermelon
Rosemary – Sangria with Watermelon and Rosemary
Shiso (Member of mint family) – Watermelon-Shiso Cooler
Smoked Paprika – Watermelon Sashimi with Sweet and Spicy Cilantro Dipping Sauce
Star Anise – Watermelon, Lime, Ginger, and Star Anise Jam
Summer Savory – Watermelon Goat Cheese Toast
Tarragon – Watermelon Grape Tarragon Salad
Thai Basil – Watermelon, Chili and Basil Ice Pops
Turmeric – Watermelon Curry
Besides the watermelon jam pictured at the top of this post, I tried another one on the list and it was amazing. I’ll blog about it next week. Which recipe caught your fancy?
Disclosure – This post is sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. All opinions expressed and all editorial decisions are my own.