Creative ways to use watermelon

Spring is here and right around the corner, ripe red watermelons will be ready for the picking. Are you ready? Yes, they are tasty right off the rind, but there are many ways to use some knowledge you've learned in your online chef courses. Try these options for an exciting watermelon treat:

Prepping for a Memorial Day barbeque? Slice a large watermelon in half. Cut out all the fruit while leaving the rind intact. Mix up some red jello and pour the liquid into the rind. Let set in the refrigerator until it has reached the proper gelatin consistency. Now slice the watermelon as you would a real one. Your guests will get a kick out of this fun twist.

Are you a fan of a nice cool salad on a hot day? Cut a watermelon into bite-sized, cubed pieces. Toss them in a bowl with balsamic vinegar, feta cheese and sliced basil. This is a unique, sweet-yet-bitter dish that people love at picnics and potlucks during the summertime. You can even skip the cubing method and just slice the fruit with the rind still on. Add the feta and basil and place the melon on the grill. Add a few drops of balsamic and remove from the heat. This is a very different steak than your typical grill sees!

Juicing is all the rage in the health foods world and what better ingredient to use than watermelon? According to the World's Healthiest Foods, watermelon is about 92 percent water, making it super great for a hydrating summer snack. Add a few slices to your next juice variety for a slightly sweet taste.

Fruit leather
A lot of kids equate childhood and the warmer months with eating a lot of fruit leather. Baked by Rachel uses the fruit and sugar to make fruit leathers at home. Puree the cubed watermelon and then drain it with a cheese cloth. Add the solid watermelon particles to the sugar and blend again. Evenly spread the sweet mix over a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and place in the oven for three hours or until the leathers are no longer wet, but still sticky. You can use a knife to cut them into strips, or go for the cookie cutters to make fun shapes like starfish and whales. This recipe is much cheaper than the fruit leathers you can purchase at the store, and it's more environmentally friendly since it doesn't require all those plastic wrappers. Just be sure to store the leathers in an airtight container with the parchment still attached to keep them from sticking.

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