Watermelon’s ability to masquerade as tuna and tomatoes was a surprise to those of us who only associate the juicy fruit as a summer treat for hot days. But the competitors on Top Chef Canada: All-Stars saw the brightly hued ingredient for its versatility in the unusual trompe l’oeil challenge where the goal was to trick the eyes and the tastebuds of judges.
Dustin’s Tuna Poke that’s really compressed watermelon.
Dustin Gallagher transformed compressed watermelon into a version of trendy poke, with the melon’s colour perfectly imitating that of deeply pink cubes of raw tuna, while Nicole Gomes created a “cherry tomato” from the melon, stuffing it with feta and topping with balsamic jelly and mint. Taking a cocktail cue, Jesse Vergen compressed his watermelon with beet juice and negroni.
In each of these dishes, the judges were meant to be fooled into thinking they weren’t eating watermelon.
Nicole’s Cherry Tomato that is actually a watermelon stuffed with feta.
Take a page out of the All-Stars chefs handbook and have watermelon in other ways than just a slice of cool fruit on a hot summer day. From savoury, sweet to boozy, here are a seven delicious dishes to make watermelon the All-Star of the show.
Watermelon and Haloumi
The watermelon soaks up a vibrant vinaigrette made with garlic, shallots, honey and mint. The haloumi is seared off until it’s hot and melty in the middle and is then served with the cool, savoury and sweetly fresh watermelon.
Gazpacho is not only the realm of tomatoes. This chilled summer soup can also be made with watermelon, as Tyler Florence demonstrates. Just like the more traditional version, it gets some spicy kick from chilies and acidic tang from vinegar, but the fresh watermelon adds an interesting twist.
Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad
Peppery arugula, salty feta and refreshing mint combine with cooling watermelon for a fantastic summer salad. Ina Garten tops it with a dressing made with lemon and orange juice for a citrusy punch.
Watermelon and Strawberry Icebergs
Spiked or Shirley Temple-style for the kids, these Watermelon and Strawberry Icebergs are a sippable way to beat the summer heat. The fruity drinks are topped with cooling slush and flavoured with a hint of summery mint.
Watermelon is a cooling treat on its own, but when mixed with a bit of sugar and water and then frozen into a granita, it becomes a superior way to chill out. The best part is there’s no need for fancy ingredients or an ice cream machine.
While we usually think of eating watermelon in its natural state – cubed, sliced or pureed – Lynn Crawford has a recipe that takes the fruit and adds it to a baked cake for something completely different. To really bump up that melon flavour, some of the juice is also added to the glaze.