It’s summer already and the mercury is rising. One of my favorite things about summer is fresh watermelon. It is cool and refreshing on a hot summer day. Watermelon is low in calories, but not in sugar and offers tons of vitamin C, A and B. In fact sweet, juicy watermelons are actually packed with some of the most important antioxidants in nature. So go on and enjoy a guilt-free summer of watermelons in a variety of forms.

Most people enjoy raw sliced watermelon but you can actually do a lot more with it. Here I will show you how to incorporate watermelon into 3 different courses. This is just a start. The possibilities are endless!

Watermelon martini

(recipe courtesy of Chef Art Smith)

Servings: Makes 6 large martinis

  • 4 cups watermelon (with the rinds, seeds removed)
  • 1 cup lemon vodka
  • 1/2 cup cointreau or triple sec
  • 2 limes , squeezed
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • Garnish ; pieces of watermelon, lime, sugar cane

In a blender, combine the watermelon chunks and puree. Remove pureed fruit and pour into a pitcher and keep very cold, even a little frozen to make it icy.

For two generous martinis, add one cup of watermelon puree, 1/4 cup of lemon vodka, and one tablespoon of cointreau or triple sec to the blender with three ice cubes and blend. Pour into a nice festive glass, garnish with watermelon chunks, limes and a stick of sugar cane.

Watermelon salad

(makes 4)

  • 2 cups watermelon, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, lightly roasted
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 4 oz. crumbled plain feta cheese
  • 4 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar

Arrange the arugula on 4 salad plates. Divided the watermelon and spread over the arugula on each of the plates. Top with feta cheese and sesame seeds. Drizzle the vinegar and enjoy.

Watermelon and mint sorbet

(Recipe courtesy of Ciao Bella)

  • 6 cups chopped seedless watermelon
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, minced

Make a simple syrup by mixing the sugar in water on low heat until completely dissolved. Let cool. In a blender, combine the watermelon, lemon juice and simple syrup and blend until smooth.  Add the mint leaves. Pour into an ice cream machine & churn according to directions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze overnight.  Serve cold. This recipe makes 2 quarts.