The warmer weather is here, which means pool parties and backyard BBQ’s. It seems like summer-time parties are synonymous with sliced watermelon or some sort of watermelon salad. This spicy watermelon salad takes your average watermelon and turns it into a flavorful, refreshing dish that is sure to be a hit! The best part is, it’s incredibly simple to make. Just five ingredients, plus salt and pepper. Sliced watermelon and jicama a tossed with a thinly sliced serrano pepper, lime juice and cilantro. The heat from serrano pepper balances out the cooler flavors of the watermelon, jicama, cilantro and lime. The perfect summer salad!
Hydrate with Watermelon
Feel refreshed and stay hydrated with watermelon this summer. Watermelon is 92% water (hence the name!) and can do a fabulous job of keeping us hydrated in the heat. While I recommend pushing the fluids to stay hydrated, foods can also contribute to the amount of liquid we need to stay hydrated throughout the day. Aside from being a natural hydrator, watermelon is packed with nutrients. Based on a two cup serving, watermelon is low in calories and an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and B6. These vitamins are needed for healthy eyes and skin, immune function, brain development and breakdown of proteins. Fun fact: the more protein you eat the more B6 you need. In addition, watermelon is also the best source of lycopene and the amino acid citrulline. These plant components, together with the vitamins can help lower blood pressure, reduce muscle soreness after exercise, and lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Watermelon is the leading source of lycopene, an antioxidant that is part of the carotenoid family, which gives many foods (tomatoes, papaya, pink grapefruit, guava) their red color. Two cups of watermelon contain 15-20 milligrams of lycopene. While there isn’t enough research to know exactly how much lycopene we need in our diet, there is research that supports it’s health benefits. These benefits include lowering triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol levels, decreasing risk for hardening of the arteries, helping prevent prostate cancer and helping prevent against UV ray damage.
Since lycopene is a fat-soluble vitamin, you can greatly improve its absorption by incorporating a healthy fat. For example, drizzling an olive oil balsamic dressing on a watermelon is a simple way to add flavor and improve the antioxidant absorption. In the salad below I’ve incorporated pumpkin seeds for the healthy fat, so make sure you don’t skip.
Recipe Notes: This recipe calls for a serrano chile, which is quite spicy. If you are sensitive to heat, I recommend using a jalapeño or fresno chile instead. You could also just sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper or forgo the spicy component altogether. The pumpkin seeds provide a source of healthy fat which is important for the absorption of lycopene, the antioxidant found in watermelon. You can substitute the pumpkin seeds with another nut or seed. If you choose to leave this salad nut and seed free, I recommend adding a drizzle of olive oil or sliced avocado. Just make sure to include some sort of healthy fat.
Spicy Watermelon Jicama Salad
A refreshing watermelon and jicama salad with a bit of heat from serrano pepper. The spice balances out the cooler flavors of the watermelon, jicama, cilantro and lime. The perfect summer salad.
- 1 3-pound seedless watermelon
- 1 medium jicama
- 1 serrano chile jalapeño or fresno
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 lime, freshly squeezed
- salt and pepper
Remove the water melon rind and cut into thin sticks (about rind 2½x½-inch if you want to be precise). Place in a large bowl. Do the same to the jicama. The skin of the jicama can be removed with a knife or a vegetable peeler. Place in the bowl with the watermelon.
Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the serrano chile very finely. Add the chile slices, lime juice and cilantro to the bowl. Finish with freshly ground salt and pepper.
This recipe can be made in advance but leave out the cilantro until right before serving. Store up to 3 days in a air tight container.
This salad was inspired and ever so slightly adapted from this recipe by Bon Appétit.
Nuts/seeds: substitute the pumpkin seeds for sliced almonds, crushed cashews, peanuts or hemp seeds.
Spice: substitute the serrano chile for a jalapeno or fresno. Forgo the chile and use a sprinkle of cayenne or skip the heat completely.
Make it a Meal: Add a lean protein, beans or fish for a light and refreshing summer meal.
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