This time of year, itâ€™s watermelon, watermelon everywhere.
U.S. prices areâ€”fortunatelyâ€”a far cry from the $80 square melons that are trendy in Japan. (And which are reportedly currently selling for as much as $860 in Russia.)
Summer supermarket promotions in the U.S. can knock the price of a 10-20 pound watermelon as low as $2.
Itâ€™s a great deal, and one that can leave you with cups and cups to enjoy as is or work into recipes.
Watermelon is another of those unexpected foods that works well in both sweet and savory dishes, from drinks to entrees to desserts.
We asked chefs, food bloggers and other experts for their best cheap recipes incorporating this summer fruit.
To beat the heat and your budget, consider these 9:
Tomato-based versions are great, but cooks can also incorporate watermelon for a slightly sweeter flavor.
Bri Kozior, a Top 8 Finalist for MasterChef, came up with this unusual dessert incorporating fresh watermelon juice.
To make it, preheat oven to 325 F.â€¨Grease bottom and sides of a 10â€ť springform pan (or whatever youâ€™re using to bake cheesecake in).
In a stand mixer, cream 32 ounces softened cream cheese and one cup sugar together till smooth.
Mix in two tablespoons watermelon juice, two tablespoons watermelon syrup, and a drop of red food coloring, just until combined.
Add four eggs, one at a time, mixing each until fully incorporated. Set aside the batter.
Melt a half-cup butter and add 2.25 cups graham cracker crumbs. Press into the pan.
Pour watermelon cheesecake mixture on top.â€¨ Bake for 40 mintes or until center is set. Let cool before removing. Top with fresh slices of watermelon.
Watermelon and feta is a classic salad combo, but if youâ€™re looking for a variation on the theme, mobile cooking party company Parties That Cook makes a version with ricotta salata (feta is a possible sub, if you prefer), watercress, green olives and pine nuts.
â€śItâ€™s so refreshing and a nice departure from typical summer fruit salads,â€ť says Kim Kushner, author of The Modern Menu, of her creation.
To make it, drain four cans of lychees, reserving one cup of the syrup. Chop one-quarter of a watermelon into chunks. Mix the lychees, syrup and melon in a large bowl with a pint of raspberries.
Gently stir in three tablespoons chopped mint. Spoon into individual bowls, and then drizzle with honey to taste.
Toast and chop a half-cup of pistachios. Sprinkle over the tops.
Watermelon? On the grill? You betâ€”itâ€™s delicious.
A lime-honey-chili sauce gives the grilled slices an extra kick in this dish from GrillGrate.com.
On a hot day, itâ€™s tough to beat a cold soup. Washington, D.C., based caterer Chef J. Jackson makes a sweet one incorporating watermelon and Greek yogurt.
His recipe: Dice five cups of red or yellow watermelon. Combine one cup of the watermelon with two tablespoons chopped fresh mint and a tablespoon sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
Place the remaining four cups watermelon in a blender, add two tablespoons fresh lemon juice, a teaspoon of chopper ginger and a half-cup lightly sweet white wine.
(Chef Jackson recommends Riesling. For a non-alcoholic version, sub in a half cup water mixed with a quarter-cup sugar.)
Blend until smooth. Let sit for half an hour. Strain soup; divide among 4 bowls.
Top each with an eighth of a cup of the reserved watermelon, a dollop of Greek yogurt and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
For an even colder treat, Tricia Callahan of Once a Month Mom suggests blending watermelon with yogurt for a healthier ice-pop substitute that kids will love.
Ever notice how a slab of watermelon can look like a great tuna steak, and vice versa?
Swissotel Chicagoâ€™s Sous Chef, Christopher Polo, blurs the line further.
Mix one-quarter cup soy sauce, a tablespoon lime juice, two tablespoons rice wine vinegar, two teaspoons sugar, two cloves of finely minced garlic, and a teaspoon ginger.
Make sure the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture over two cups of diced watermelon. Let it marinate in a cooler for about an hour.
Sprinkle with black sesame seeds before serving.
Mixed with seltzer and a few other ingredients, watermelon can make a colorful non-alcoholic party drink.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what sheâ€™ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.