Dramatically heaving the bag out of the kitchen with exaggerated effort, punctuating every few steps with a few groans for good measure, my dad could have won awards for that performance. “What did you put in here! Are you throwing away a pile of bricks?”
Heavy with the remains of a recently eviscerated watermelon, our garbage bin was easily overweight. Summertime trash days came with a built-in upper body workout. Though I knew he was only putting on a show, that sentiment remained along with an unintended, yet indelible sense of guilt. There was no municipal composting in my hometown nor enough knowledge on my part to make my own mulch at the tender age of 16. All I knew was that I loved watermelon, and that passion came with a lot of excess baggage in the form of rinds.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was throwing away perfectly good food, despite conventional wisdom that says otherwise. Turns out, I’m not the first to have that thought. Thrifty homemakers have been turning those scraps into pickles for centuries, particularly in the south, with a penchant for a syrupy sweet brine. One or two batches of these preserves was enough for me, but the refuse continued to amass.
Further experimentation led to greater rewards. Once cleaned of the hard outer skin and diced, the watermelon rind itself becomes almost translucent while cooking, taking on a neutral flavor much like that of simmered zucchini or any other summer squash. Perfect for bulking up a stew when the budget is lean or adding a bit more fiber that picky eaters can easily enjoy, my secret ingredient for everything savory from June to September is formerly fodder for the wastebasket.
Even now, with effortless curbside compost pickup, this “rubbish” is too good to toss. Further trials have turned out delicious results, including a delightfully crisp, crunchy watermelon rind slaw and deeply satisfying, piping-hot breaded watermelon rind fries. An easy entry into the world of watermelon rind cookery is curry, for anyone who remains skeptical. The bold spices paint any vegetable in a rich palate of warm flavors, ideal for mixing and matching any produce you might have left into the bin. Curry is my go-to answer for using up odds and ends that otherwise don’t go together, but with a bit more deliberate planning, you can craft a truly superlative stew.
Serve over rice or with chewy flatbread like naan or roti to complete the meal. You could also lean more heavily on the southern roots of these produce picks and dip a wedge of soft, sweet cornbread into the brew. No matter what, just don’t toss those rinds. They still have a lot of culinary potential left to savor.
- 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
- 1 Small Yellow Onion, Diced
- 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
- 1 Bell Pepper, Seeded and Diced
- 2 Medium Tomatoes, Diced
- 4 Cups Watermelon Rind, Peel Removed, Cubed
- 1 1⁄2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1⁄2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
- 1⁄4 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
- 1⁄4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 (14-Ounce) Can Chickpeas, Drained
- 1 (14-Ounce) Can Full-Fat Coconut Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
- Fresh Cilantro, Minced (Optional)
- Set a medium saucepan over medium heat and warm the coconut oil. Once melted, add the onion and garlic. Saute until softened and aromatic; about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and continue to cook for another 5 - 6 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Mix in the tomatoes, using their excess juices to help deglaze the pan, and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes, until softened.
- Toss in the watermelon rind followed by all the spices, salt, chickpeas, and coconut milk. Stir well to incorporate. Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
- When all the vegetables are fork-tender, turn off the heat and gently stir in the lime juice. Top with fresh cilantro, if desired, and serve hot.
Feel free to double the recipe for a crowd.
Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 - 7 days.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 319Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 5gSugar: 15gProtein: 7g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.