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Editor’s note: At the Table with the Gabels features tasty recipes and tips from Vanessa Gabel and her daughter, Kaitlyn, of Danville.


Kaitlyn: We wanted to choose a refreshing, easy dish for summer. 

Whenever I think of summer all I can imagine is a delicious watermelon to enjoy on a hot day. 

Most people often think they know how to pick a good watermelon based only on knocking on it to see if it’s hollow, but that theory is incorrect. There are multiple ways to pick out the best watermelon from the patch such as that creamy yellow spot full of dirt specks.That “dirt” actually means it was pollinated the best and that yellow spot indicates a sweeter watermelon. 

Another way to choose a good watermelon is if there’s a flat spot on the melon, which indicates it was sitting in the patch longer and is a sweeter melon. 

It’s very easy to customize ingredients for this dish, such as more fruits or greens.

Sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or even pineapple would add more to the dish and add a wide range of different textures to the recipe. 

I also thought adding more greens, such as spinach or lettuce, would turn this into a fun new way to eat salads. We used the Italian dressing as directed but a fruity dressing like a raspberry vinaigrette would taste delicious too. 

Vanessa: One of my memories growing up was that there was always a watermelon in the fridge over the summer. 

Sometimes it was cut up, other times it was left on the rind for utensil-free devouring. 

Over the years, I’ve maintained this tradition in my own home. However, after a while plain watermelon could be boring, so we’ve found new ways to make it interesting and flavorful, while still maintaining the flavor of summer. 

This has taken many forms from watermelon popsicles to watermelon slushies and now watermelon salsa.  

This recipe offers the crispness of the fresh ingredients, with a blend of flavors that somehow work well together. 

If your kitchen and garden is stocked like ours is, you may have all of these ingredients on hand to start experimenting with the flavors in your home.  

One thing I’d like to try next time would bet o add some sunflower seeds for an extra layer of crunch. Not only can you eat this salsa plain, as a fruit salad of sorts, but if you chop the watermelon pieces up small enough, you can serve it on crusty bread as an hors d’oeuvres or a fun finger food while lounging by the pool.


Watermelon Salsa

1 1/2 cups cut watermelon

1 medium cucumber, chopped

1/2 red onion, diced

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1-2 tbsp zesty Italian salad dressing, to taste

1 serrano pepper, finely chopped (optional)


Chop ingredients into bite-size pieces and toss together in a bowl until combined.


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