Watermelon. A staple item at every barbeque growing up (and let’s be honest, still) this delicious fruit stands alone or is great tossed together with a few ingredients. We have gone through some serious watermelon this summer – in smoothies, tossed with mint, grilled (yes – try it!), and even in an adult beverage or two.
However, when I think of my absolute favorite summer treat, I have to go with ceviche. First of all, it defies all reason that lime juice can cook anything, let alone shrimp. Couple that feat of strength with not having to use the oven and I’m sold.
Almost a decade ago, I joined a good friend and his family at their summer home on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. One of the neighbors brought over a bowl of ceviche and I could not get enough! I’ve been craving it for ten years.
After much experimenting, I finally tweaked enough recipes to come up with one that gets close to that first taste. It’s a little Emeril, a little Pioneer Woman, a little of my Aunt Karen and her famous Cowboy Salsa, and a lot of just adding the things I love.
When we started eating Paleo more than a year ago, I signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture – or a CSA — membership. It’s a weekly delivery of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and greens that makes eating “close to the earth” easy and fun, while also supporting local growers. Additionally, we planted a variety of herbs and vegetables in our garden this spring. With two toddlers, it is so rewarding to watch them run to the backyard and pick what’s ripe. My two year old can often be heard yelling, “NOT GREEN, JUST RED,” throughout our neighborhood. Much of this recipe was sourced through our garden and the CSA, which made it even better.
When we got a watermelon in our CSA this week, I knew I had to combine these two favorites: watermelon and ceviche. I once saw a fabulous appetizer at a hotel buffet in Vegas where little watermelon cups housed a small arugula salad, and thought that I could mimic that cup-like functionality to house my ceviche. I also vetted the idea on Pinterest (adhering to my belief that something is completely legitimate if it’s on the internet). Alas, in the interest of full disclosure: despite my assumption that this rare stroke of complete culinary genius was totally my brainchild, ceviche in watermelon cups has been done before.
I was thrilled. The acidity of the ceviche and the sweet crunch of the watermelon are the perfect, albeit unlikely, pair. And, just as the case with every other recipe: the fresher the ingredients, the better.
Tessa’s Ceviche in Watermelon Cups
This recipe is truly forgiving and flexible. Add black beans, leave out tomatoes, throw in some mangoes – do what makes you happy.
1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup lime juice (fresh, if possible)
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 serrano chili, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 avocados, chopped
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
In a glass baking dish, combine all of the ingredients except tomatoes, avocados, EVOO and cilantro. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally to ensure all of your shrimp is coated with juices … which has to be some sort of fairy nectar.
At around hour three, I add the remaining ingredients, stirring gently to combine. (Tip – throw in one of your avocado seeds to prevent the avocados from turning brown).
While the shrimp is miraculously cooking itself, cut your watermelon in 2-inch round slices using a biscuit cutter (or, in my case, a glass from one of my husband’s conferences.) Press down to cut out your watermelon saucers. Using a small spoon, scoop out a small portion from the middle of the saucer to create a spot for your ceviche. Be careful not to scoop all the way through the saucer so that you can actually eat it. Don’t worry – this will allllll make sense once you start the process.
I was able to get three saucers from each slice. (Note: don’t discard the “scraps;” chop them up and save for later. Or call me – I’ll eat them for you!)
Once your ceviche is finished (the shrimp should appear opaque throughout), place a spoonful onto each “cup.”
And now, enjoy!! Depending on the size of your watermelon, you may have ceviche left over. I eat it with a spoon or over scrambled eggs, but I’m also told it’s delicious with plantain chips, tortilla chips … and probably anything else.