Fruitful Plates: 4 Melon-Based Recipes

Beat the heat this summer by stocking up on a naturally hydrating food: melons.

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Beat the heat this summer by stocking up on a naturally hydrating food: melons.

The hydrating power (and plentiful health benefits) of sweet and juicy melons should not be overlooked in your summer fueling. All melons contain a large amount of water, which can help you rehydrate naturally. Give these refreshing melon recipes a try this summer.

Honeydew, Papaya and Avocado Salsa with Seared Scallops

Dress up scallops with a colorful and inventive melon salsa. This salsa also adds flair to any seafood, grilled chicken or salad.

16 jumbo sea scallops
1½ T olive oil
2 cups honeydew melon, finely chopped
1 cup papaya, finely chopped
1 medium ripe avocado
¼ cup red bell pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
1 T serrano pepper, finely diced (optional for spice)
1 T freshly chopped cilantro
Juice and zest of one orange
Juice and zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the avocado in half, removing the pit. With the skin on, score the avocado into small cubes, without cutting through the skin. Scoop out the cubes with a spoon into a bowl. In the same bowl, add the honeydew, papaya, bell pepper, serrano pepper, cilantro, orange, lemon and a sprinkle of salt. Let the salsa sit in the fridge while preparing the scallops. Line a large plate with two paper towels. Set the scallops on the paper towels, and place two more paper towels on top. Gently pat the scallops to absorb any moisture (this will ensure a nice sear). Remove the top layer of paper towels and conservatively season the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place 5–6 scallops in the pan, not touching each other, and sear for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the scallops and sear 2 minutes on the other side, until just underdone inside. Place the scallops on a plate and cover with foil. They will continue to cook slightly once removed from the pan. Repeat with the other scallops (total three batches). Serve the scallops with the salsa drizzled on top. Makes 4 servings

While honeydew boasts significant amounts of potassium and vitamins B and C, it also contains copper. This mineral aids in muscle and tissue repair—an obvious benefit to any triathlete. Honeydew is also low in calories, with only 60 in a 1-cup serving.

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Watermelon Panzanella

This classic salad is made even better with fresh, juicy chunks of watermelon. Serve it up on a hot summer evening as a refreshing side dish.

2½  cups hearty, whole-grain bread, diced into ½-inch pieces
4 cups arugula
2 cups watermelon diced into ½-inch pieces
1 cup tomatoes, finely diced
1 cup cucumber, casaba or honeydew melon, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 T capers
2 T freshly chopped basil
2 T toasted pine nuts (optional)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
¼ tsp salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread the bread pieces on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and let cool. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber (or melon), bell pepper, capers, and basil to the bowl. Toss to combine with the dressing and let marinate for 20 minutes. Gently toss the arugula, bread pieces, and pine nuts into the mixture in the bowl and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings

RELATED – Recipe Of The Week: Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Salad

Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Keep a batch of this sweet and tangy gazpacho on hand through the summer for a low-calorie, refreshing snack. Impress guests with this recipe by serving it in bowls topped with a chopped salad of watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, mint, basil and feta.

8 cups seedless
watermelon, diced
2 cups casaba melon or
½ English cucumber, diced
2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
½ serrano pepper, finely diced (seeds removed for less spice)
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 T fresh mint, chopped
1 T shallot, finely diced
2 T red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 limes
2 T extra virgin olive oil
¾ tsp salt

In batches, purée the watermelon in a blender. Transfer to a large bowl when done. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender and purée until smooth. Pour this mixture in with the watermelon, and stir until well combined. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to overnight. Serve chilled. Makes 4–8 servings

Watermelon is the most juicy of the melon family, plus it contains heart-healthy lycopene, vitamins A, C and B6, and the electrolyte potassium. Casaba melon, a yellow melon similar in taste to a cucumber, is also a rich source of vitamin B6, which is shown to maintain metabolism and decrease inflammation.

RELATED: 15 Foods To Keep You Hydrated

Cantaloupe, Pineapple and Veggie Smoothie

Trying to eat more fruits and vegetables? This smoothie makes it easy to reach that goal with a glass chock-full of vitamins A and C. Coconut water adds an extra hydrating element and a dose of potassium.

2 cups cantaloupe, diced
1 cup pineapple, diced
2 cups spinach, washed
2 carrots, washed and diced
1–1½ cups coconut water*
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 T agave
*Add more or less coconut water for desired consistency.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process for 30 seconds until smooth.

Cantaloupe and other orange melons are, like carrots, loaded with vitamin A—key in bone development and vision. In fact, one cup of cantaloupe contains about 40 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A, and almost the full requirement of daily vitamin C, an important antioxidant supporting the immune system and formation of collagen. Cantaloupes are also rich in potassium, which helps control blood pressure.

RELATED: Enjoy Fruits Year-Round

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