Besides sweet corn and tomatoes, nothing says summer quite like watermelon. Every component is edible, from the juicy flesh to the nutty-flavored seeds — and you can even eat the rind when it’s prepared properly.
Here are five of my favorite ways to enjoy watermelon in Kansas City.
Extra Virgin, 1900 Main St.
You may not think tomato and watermelon go together. But take one bite of the tomato and watermelon gazpacho ($5) at Extra Virgin and you’ll immediately understand why the combination makes all the sense in the world.
This cold summer soup is watermelon sweetness on the front end and fresh, ripe tomato flavor on the back end. The gazpacho is bright, light and refreshing, and the rich, fruity olive oil drizzled on top gives it body. Consider tomato and watermelon the “it” couple of summer.
Blvd Tavern, 320 Southwest Blvd.
Achieving the perfect balance of flavor and texture is what great chefs strive for in every dish they create. Blvd Tavern chef Derek Nacey accomplished that mission with his seasonal watermelon salad ($9).
The dish juxtaposes sweet watermelon with salty olives and briny feta. Sharp, peppery arugula adds kick — as does the real star of the salad: spicy house-pickled watermelon rind.
Paleterias Tropicana, 830 Southwest Blvd.; 151 S. 18th St., Suite N, in Kansas City, Kan.; and 539 E. Santa Fe St. in Olathe
Paleterias Tropicana is a bright, vibrant ice cream concept with three locations in the Kansas City area. In addition to ice cream, the store also serves fresh fruit juices and smoothies as well as baked goods and paletas. Similar to ice pops, paletas are traditionally made with real fruit and fruit juice.
Grab a watermelon (or sandia in Spanish) paleta. The $1.50 treat has a delicate, icy texture — and the true reward lies in the hunks of real melon in every few bites.
The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, 1924 Main St.
Rieger chef Howard Hanna changes the menu as often as the seasons change, and he rarely, if ever, features the same item twice. But Hanna has great fondness for a dessert introduced a couple of summers ago, so recently he put it on repeat.
The watermelon sorbet terrine ($7) is a thick slice of watermelon sorbet lightly drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, a popular shaved ice topping referred to as a “snow cap.” The watermelon terrine is topped with flecks of fresh mint, pickled watermelon rind and candied watermelon seeds — something Hanna grew up eating. The rind-to-seed dessert is light, refreshing and sure to get you through these dog days of summer.
Beignet, 307 Main St.
Beignet, the New Orleans-themed cafe tucked in the northwest corner of the City Market, serves a surprising amount of food considering the size of its small storefront. In addition to its selection of deep-fried pastries, Beignet serves grits, macaroni and cheese, crepes, po’ boy sandwiches and other Cajun favorites.
The cafe also offers a large selection of iced teas. Try the watermelon iced tea ($2.50). Its lightly sweet, summery flavor is the perfect pairing for savory crepes and a leisurely stroll through the City Market.