Melons are in season late spring through late summer. Thanks to our hot summers and mild winters, melon season in California can stretch into November. You’ve probably been eating lots of watermelon, cantaloupe, muskmelon and more this summer and now you’re on the search for a fresh take. Look no further; these recipes feature melon in savory applications with lots of salty, spicy, smoky, and acidic flavors.

Honeydew, Feta & Jalapeño Salad

Salty feta and spicy chiles play wonderfully against the sweet and juicy flesh of honeydew. You can sub any melon into this recipe.  

  • 1 small, extremely ripe honeydew melon
  • 1 small jalapeño or serrano chile
  • 2 limes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons 
  • 4 oz. Valbreso French sheep’s feta cheese 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaky salt

Cut the ends of the honeydew melon so it has two flat surfaces. While it’s on one of its flat surfaces, cut the rind off the melon, trying to lose as little flesh as possible. Cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut in half again and thinly slice.

Arrange the melon slices on a platter. Thinly slice the feta and add the thin shards to the platter with the melon. Thinly slice the jalapeño and scatter it on top of the melon and feta (remove pith and seeds if you want to reduce heat). Zest the lime right over the platter, then squeeze its juice all over. Cut another lime into wedges and arrange around the platter. Drizzle the salad with oil and sprinkle with flaky salt. Scatter the basil over everything.

Basil Salt

Basil, another summer crop, compliments the flavor of melon beautifully. Add salt to take the mouth-watering to another level, literally. Adorn fresh melon triangles with a generous sprinkle. 

  • 1 cup coarse salt
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed

Place fresh basil in a blender and blend until very fine. Add the salt and pulse to combine.

Remove the mixture from the blender and store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. You can do this with mint, which is also delicious with melon, or other herbs.

Melon and Prosciutto Skewers

Melon and prosciutto can be found on most Italian menus during hot summer months. Pellegrino Artusi, the father of modern Italian cuisine, first put the two together in 1890 and the dish has grown in popularity ever since. Pair with Prosecco and good company. 

  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 8 oz. ciliegine mozzarella balls 
  • 12 slices prosciutto

Halve cantaloupe, then scoop out and discard seeds using a spoon. Using a melon baller, scoop out 24 balls. You can also cut 1-inch chunks from the flesh if you prefer. 

Assemble the skewers: Layer cantaloupe, basil, mozzarella, prosciutto, and a second piece of cantaloupe until you have 12 skewers.

Drizzle skewers with balsamic glaze and serve immediately.

Grilled Chipotle Watermelon

“Chipotle” comes from the Nahuatl word meaning “smoked chile” and smokiness is a wonderful complement to the sweet and fruity flavors of melon. This recipe is delicious with stone fruit, like peaches, in place of the watermelon as well. 

  • 1 small seedless watermelon, cut into thick spears 
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon chipotle powder, depending on spice tolerance 
  • ½ tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon mint, cut to ribbons 
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

In a bowl whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, chipotle powder and honey.

Heat grill until very hot. Place spears on the grill over direct heat and brush with the dressing. Cook the watermelon skewers on one side for just a minute until grill marks form, flip, grill 1 minute and then remove them from the heat.

Brush the watermelon with any remaining sauce and sprinkle with mint and salt before serving.

Fruit Sticks with Lime Crema

This might actually be the perfect late summer snack. Juicy fruit spears and zesty crema hydrating and cooling while adding a pinch of chili powder plays off the sweetness of ripe fruit.This is something you can graze on even if it’s 105°F outside.  

  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus some for sprinkling 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch chili powder or chili flakes 
  • ½ seedless melon of choice, cut into spears
  • 1 mango, cut into strips or spears 

Combine sour cream, lime zest and juice, salt, coriander and cumin. Whisk well and chill for 30 minutes. 

Just before serving, sprinkle fruit spears with chili powder or chili flakes, depending on your heat tolerance. Serve spears with lime crema.

Roasted Muskmelon or Cantaloupe Seeds

This recipe is a lovely lesson in using parts of the fruit we usually compost. Use your favorite spices, herbs, oils, and vinegars to experiment with flavor! 

  • 2 ounces (about ¼ cup) of seeds (a ripe cantaloupe with yield about one ounce)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons tamari or soy sauce, plus extra for drizzling

Rinse and drain the seeds, separating out any pulp. Let dry for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 320°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix soy sauce and sesame oil together in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify. Toss the seeds with the mixture.

Place as a single layer on the baking sheet and lightly drizzle with soy sauce. Roast seeds for about 20 minutes, until they turn golden. Cool completely before eating. They’ll get crunchier as they cool – don’t worry! 

Watermelon Rind Quick Pickles 

Pickled watermelon rind is both acidic and slightly sweet, so it’s great with rich, fatty foods like cheese or steak. It’s also fantastic alongside roasted or grilled meats. They’re great on their own too: set the jar on the table by your other BBQ side dishes at your next cookout.

  • 8 cups sliced and peeled watermelon rind (2 inch x 1 inch pieces will work)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, plus more for jars
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

Place rind in a large nonreactive bowl; stir in water and salt. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Rinse and drain well.

In a Dutch oven, combine sugar, vinegar, 2 cinnamon sticks, cloves and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Add rinds; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until tender. Discard cinnamon sticks.

Carefully ladle hot mixture into glass jars with well fitting lids (anything like a mason jar will work). Add a cinnamon stick to each jar. Allow to come to room temperature and screw on bands until fingertip tight. Place jars in the fridge for at least 6 hours to pickle. Keep in the fridge after opening as well.

Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho 

Gazpacho is a cold soup traditionally made with summer produce and served during hot August afternoons. This version uses grilled watermelon, tomato, cucumber, and jalapeño to impart deep, smoky flavor in this cooling, hydrating dish. 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ seedless watermelon, cut into three 1½ inch thick slices
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, halved
  • ½ English cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and halved lengthwise
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons diced red onion, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

Toss 1 tablespoon olive oil with watermelon slices, tomato, cucumber and jalapeño. Grill, covered, on a greased grill rack over medium-high direct heat until seared, 5-6 minutes per side. This step can be done under the broiler as well. Remove from heat, reserving one watermelon slice.

When cool enough to handle, remove rind from remaining watermelon slices; cut flesh into chunks. Remove skin and seeds from tomato and jalapeno; chop. Coarsely chop cucumber. Combine grilled vegetables; add ¼ cup onion, vinegar, lime juice and seasonings. Blend in batches in a blender until smooth or use an immersion blender, adding remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil during the final minute of blending. If desired, strain through a fine-mesh strainer; adjust seasonings as needed. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled or at least 2 hours. 

To serve, pour gazpacho into bowls or glasses. Top with diced avocado and remaining onion. Cut the reserved grilled watermelon slice into wedges. Garnish bowls or glasses with wedges.