I can’t quite recall where I first encountered the idea of charred watermelon. It does sound incongruous and strange; the searing of a cool and refreshing summer fruit on a hot barbecue or grill, but it’s a juxtaposition of hot but cold, and savoury yet sweet, that really does work. I know. I’ve tried it and it’s true.
Usually we devour juicy watermelons as they come, sliced and chilled. In the height of summer when they’re ripe and heavy, and at their peak season best, I might transform them into refreshing paletas and granitas or home-made lemonade. Other times they find their way into a simple salad or perhaps paired with grilled haloumi and chimichurri, all building blocks for an effortless but refreshingly delicious meal.
I love how charring caramelises the melon’s natural sugars and renders each slice impossibly juicy and plump. Paired with chilli, lime, mint and feta, it produces a sweet, spicy, salty and sour flavour sensation that easily disguises the fact that a generous serve is just 180 calories. All in all its a very clever 5-2 fast day recipe idea, that easily dispels any notion that healthy meals need to be boring.
Charred Watermelon With Chilli, Lime, Mint and Feta
Serves 2 (180 calories per serve)
500g seedless watermelon, rind removed and sliced into triangles (150 calories)
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (60 calories)
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (1 calorie)
1 lime, finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice (12 calories)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, shredded (4 calories)
50g Danish feta cheese (132 calories)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
HEAT a griddle pan until smoking. Lightly brush watermelon slices with olive oil and season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper.
GRILL on each side for a minute or so until lightly charred and caramelised.
ARRANGE in a single layer on a serving platter. Dress with a dusting of chilli, finely grated lime zest and fresh mint leaves. Crumble over feta and finish with a good squeeze of lime juice. Serve immediately.