Look for a melon that is heavy in proportion to its size, says Culinary Vegetable Institute's Jamie Simpson, who likes to use basketball-sized fruit. "When you cut into it, you should see a really nice contrast between the dark green rind and deep red flesh."
Frozen Watermelon Granita with Radish,
Olive Oil and Fleur de Sel
"These contrasting ingredients create a beautiful balance of flavor. You have the peppery radish, acidic and sweet watermelon, and rich nutty, buttery texture of the chilled fava beans. The olive oil adds some healthy fat to the dish. It's cooling and cleansing."
Jamie Simpson, executive chef at the Culinary Vegetable Institute
Blanch 2 pounds green fava beans, then shock them in salted water. Shell both the outer shell and skin of the beans. Quarter 1 watermelon and slice those pieces in half. Scoop out melon and place the fruit in a blender. Blend on low speed until watermelon is smooth. Pour fruit through strainer to separate seeds. Stir in 1/8 cup lemon juice. Transfer watermelon into a large glass bakeware dish, and set it in the freezer. Scrape through the juice with a fork every 20 minutes — for no more than 2 hours — until the puree becomes shaved ice. Meanwhile, use a mandolin to shave 3 golf ball-sized radishes into thin slices. Store the shaved radishes in ice water for at least an hour. Wash and drain 1 bunch watercress. Cut off the stems. Store watercress leaves in a small bowl of ice water. When you're ready to serve, overlap radish slices on a plate. Tuck in watercress. Strew a spoonful of fava beans, about 8 to 10, per salad. Randomly top the salad with scoops of the watermelon granita. Finish the dish with some olive oil and Fleur de sel sea salt.
Watermelon-Glazed Pork Paillard
"The watermelon glaze acts like a sweet barbecue sauce. Ideally you want to be working off charcoals, so you get that hot, smoky flavor and steam as the sauce drips down. The glaze is perfect for pork, which can really support the sweet, salty and spicy flavors."
John Selick, executive chef at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center
Dice 1 small watermelon, and remove the seeds. Puree the fruit in a blender on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the watermelon, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to a sauce pot and simmer over medium heat, stirring intermittently for 30 minutes. Cool and set aside. Deposit four 4-ounce pork loins on plastic wrap. Lightly sprinkle loins with water, then fold the wrap over top. Tenderize with a mallet into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Unwrap the loins, season with salt and pepper, and grill on medium heat for 4 minutes. Flip the pork, brush with watermelon glaze and finish cooking on medium until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
"The name is tongue and cheek. It means water of life' in French. We named it that because it has this unique freshness. You have this combo of identifiably summer ingredients — basil, watermelon and blueberries. The mildly sweet basil and gin tame the sweetness of the fruit. Even if you're a non-gin drinker, you'll try one of these and want another in a heartbeat."
Laura Bouton, chef at Felice Urban Cafe
Muddle 3 ounces watermelon, 4 blueberries, 4 basil leaves and 1/2 ounce ginger simple syrup in a rocks glass. Add 1 ounce Bombay Sapphire gin, 3 ounces sparkling dry white or rose wine and 1/2 ounce Cointreau. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice. Stir and add 1/2 inch-sized ice cubes. Garnish with a watermelon wedge and basil leaf on a cocktail pick.
Cucumber Watermelon Salad
"It's light, bright and refreshing. The flavors hit almost every taste bud. You get the salty taste from the feta, sweetness from the marinade and watermelon, and crispy texture from the cucumbers."
Dennis Devies, executive chef at the Rusty Anchor at Music Box Supper Club