Somewhere, somehow, while I was living overseas, the watermelon of my childhood disappeared. You remember the one? It was red and juicy and sweet like today’s watermelons but the seeds were big and black and part of the fun (as a child) of eating the melon was spitting the seeds out, best to do it to the ground or a plate but on occasion at each other!
The other thing about those watermelons? They were big, very big. So big that you could buy one whole or you could buy a portion of sliced melon at the store.
I come from a large family so chances were the melon would get eaten, regardless of its size. And it never crossed my mind to wonder what one could do with leftover watermelon, the enormous size of which was taking over the refrigerator!
Which brings me to today. After buying the smallest melon I could find and using what I needed I was still left with more than half a melon and there was no way I was going to eat it all. What to do?
The Italians make a pudding out of their melons, Gelo di Melone. The pudding is essentially watermelon juice thickened with corn starch. However, I’m not a fan of corn starch. I don’t like the taste or the consistency it gives to food but I do like tapioca which I use as a substitute for cornstarch in pies.
I decided to make my own version of watermelon pudding with tapioca.
First the melon juice. I scooped out all of the meat of my melon. (Ignore the pallid little white seeds of the “seedless” watermelon, the next step will get rid of them.)
Using a blender or food processor whirr the flesh together until it is reduced to a pulp. Put the pulp in a sieve over a bowl and press on the flesh to extract the most juice. The seeds will be separated out by the sieve.
Taste the juice. If your watermelon was lovely and ripe it should taste strongly of melon. If it is watery you can add a packet of watermelon flavor KoolAid to amp up the flavor.
Measure the juice and put it in a pot.
Add tapioca and a little sugar. A pinch of salt or a teaspoonful of lemon juice will make the flavor pop.
Over medium high heat stir the mixture until it comes to a full rolling boil.
Remove it from the heat and let it cool. Give it a stir every once in a while as it cools to help keep the tapioca pearls distributed.
Once it is cool, all that is left is to make it pretty. I put mine in some sherry glasses and topped it with some Greek yogurt mixed with a little honey.
It’s a lovely refreshing treat. The tapioca pearls give texture to the pudding and the Greek yogurt gives a little tang to the flavor and cuts the sweetness. The pudding will keep in your refrigerator for three days or so, unless someone eats it all first!
- 4-5 lbs Watermelon juiced
Per cup of juice
- 1 ½ tbsp Instant Tapioca
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Pinch salt
For the Topping
- ¼ cup plain Greek Yogurt
- 1 tsp honey
- Mint leaves
- Puree the watermelon in a blender or food processor. Pour the pureed melon into a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl. Press down on the fruit to help extract as much juice as possible.
- Measure the juice and place in a saucepan.
- For every one cup of watermelon juice, add 1 ½ tbsp instant (Minute) tapioca, 2 tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt. Stirring constantly bring to a full boil over medium high heat.
- Remove from the heat and let cool, stirring from time to time. Once the pudding has cooled spoon into serving dishes. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
- To serve: make the topping by stirring together the Greek Yogurt and honey. Spoon a little of the yogurt on top of the pudding and garnish with a mint leaf.
Pudding will keep in the refrigerator for three days