Peak melon season is upon us. Here’s how to eat them

An assortment of melons with spices sprinkled on top
Dipped in spiced salts, scraped into icy granita or mixed into salads, ripe melon is summer’s best produce moment.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot day than an icy-cold chunk of ripe melon. The fruit is at its peak right now in the markets so you should be buying one — whether it’s a sweet watermelon, floral honeydew or candy-like cantaloupe — every time you go shopping to keep around for a snack. My favorite thing to do with them right now is to dip the chunks into a spiced salt or sugar, teeming with heady, tart flavors. I wrote about them here, so check out the three spiced salt recipes and see which one you like the best to keep around for your melon-season snacking.

Once I’ve had my fill of icy-cold melon from the fridge, my favorite thing to do with any leftovers is to turn them into this granita by blending the fruit with some rosewater and a little sugar. Topped with pistachios, it’s an excellent snack or dessert that elevates the already-perfect melon just a bit more.

For watermelon, I love to simply toss it in fresh mint leaves and lime juice, but it’s the drizzle of olive oil here that really makes the other three ingredients stand out. The oil adds just the right amount of fat to the lean-tasting fruit so that it transforms its taste into something more substantial and hearty — in this iteration, it’s great as a side dish.

Shaved cantaloupe tossed with mint, lime and prosciutto achieves the same goal, except for here, the fattiness of the cured pork adds the richness — and a wonderful saltiness to balance the super-sweet melon.


If you happen to open a melon before it’s perfectly ripe, don’t worry. For cantaloupe, julienne the firm flesh and toss it with yogurt flavored with fresh ginger and curry powder to transform the melon into a slaw that works just as well as a side dish as it does as a topping for grilled sausages or turkey burgers.

And for that not-so-great watermelon, transform it into a curry by cooking it gently in a skillet of cumin, coriander, serrano chiles and ginger. This treatment, ironically, brings out the sweetness in the melon to balance the other warm, spicy flavors. And it gives summer’s best fruit another life beyond just the perfect thing to eat icy-cold straight from the fridge.

Mixed Melon Granita With Rosewater and Pistachios

This dessert is as simple as it gets. There’s no cooking involved — just some patient freezing time to get the granita to the proper consistency. If you don’t like rosewater you can leave it out, but do use vanilla extract in its place (orange blossom water also complements the melons well, if that’s more your speed).
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 15 minutes.

A dish of mixed melons, rosewater granita and pistachios
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Watermelon With Mint and Lime

Olive oil adds richness to watermelon in this simple salad. Use fresh mint and fresh lime juice for the best flavor since those are the only other ingredients used to dress the watermelon.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 10 minutes.

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Shaved Cantaloupe With Prosciutto and Mint

Shaving ripe cantaloupe gives a textural spin to the old classic prosciutto and melon salad. Julienned prosciutto, treated as a garnish on top, adds just the right amount of fattiness to balance the floral, tart flavors of the lime and ruby port dressing.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 20 minutes.

Curried Cantaloupe Slaw

Slightly under-ripe cantaloupes are more delicately flavored and have a firmer flesh, which is perfect for making a slaw. Yogurt works brilliantly as a base for the dressing seasoned with a dash of curry powder to emphasize the savory flavor of the melon.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 20 minutes.

Watermelon Curry

Cumin, coriander, garlic and ginger combine to flavor watermelon in this simple curry. The savoriness of the fruit is enhanced by the spices and chiles, taking it from sweet treat to a hearty vegetarian or vegan main dish, perfect to serve with warm rice.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour.

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