Every year, as the Fourth of July draws closer, my kids start thinking about making sweet, patriotic-looking culinary creations that we can serve at family barbecues and picnics. It’s easy to come up with ideas, since the ripest, choicest fruits of the season (watermelon, blueberries, and strawberries) are either red or blue! Among our favorites: parfaits with alternating layers of vanilla yogurt and berries, fresh blueberry muffins served with strawberry jam, and a “flag cake” on which the icing and berries are artfully arranged to resemble the American flag.
While slicing a big, juicy watermelon into thick rounds one day, I had the idea to make watermelon “pizza” to add to the list of favorites. The crust would be a big round slice of watermelon and, instead of sauce, I reasoned, we could substitute Greek yogurt (vanilla, or plain, sweetened with honey.) Of course, the kids were happy to spread the yogurt and then add a variety of berries on top.
Once assembled, slice this beauty into wedges and there you have it—a cool and refreshing dessert. If you really want to go all out, decorate each wedge with a tiny paper American flag.
What Kids Learn
- Each watermelon bite is 92 percent water
- Eating watermelon seeds is perfectly safe
- Melon, carrots, radishes, and pineapples are among the most commonly carved fruits and vegetables.
Note: The recipe here is just a guide. Your child may want to load up the watermelon with fruit, or decorate with just a few berries. It’s always better to have too many berries, since you can use them in parfaits or smoothies.
What You’ll Need
- 4 (1-inch thick) round slices of watermelon from a large seedless watermelon (rind left on)
- 2 cups strawberries
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1½ cups vanilla Greek yogurt
What to Do
- Help your child arrange the watermelon slices on a large work surface. Show her how to use a paper towel to dry the melon slices.Teachable Moment: 4 Fun Watermelon Facts
- Watermelons are popular all over the world today, but the first watermelons called the African continent home. The first noted watermelon harvest is believed to have occurred in Egypt, 5,000 years ago.
Ancient Egyptians enjoyed watermelons as much as we do! Maybe even more: they added watermelons to the belongings that their ancestors took into the afterlife, placing the fruit in tombs and including drawings of watermelons in murals on tomb walls.
It’s no surprise that watermelons are a much-loved hot-weather snack. The flesh of the fruit is made up almost entirely of water! That’s 92 percent water content, to be exact.
It’s perfectly safe to eat the seeds of a watermelon. A watermelon plant won’t grow in your stomach, and the seeds have plenty of minerals in them.
- Let your budding dessert chef rinse all the berries separately in a colander and then pat the berries dry, very gently as they are fragile! Cut the strawberries into thin slices. (If your child has good knife skills, she can slice the berries with a small plastic knife.)
- Place the berries into separate bowls and set them near the watermelon slices. Reserve four strawberries for a garnish.
- This step’s fun: Let your child spread a layer of yogurt on each of the watermelon slices and arrange a layer of sliced strawberries around the edges of each watermelon slice. She can arrange blueberries and raspberries in a ring inside the strawberries after that. By the way, there’s no hard-and-fast rule about how to arrange the berries. So, if your child wants to make a free-form pizza, encourage her to place the berries on the melon however she wants.Teachable Moment: Food as Art!
- You don’t have to look far to see food art. Check out paintings in a local museum or flip through a book of fine art. Whenever you see a still life of fruits or vegetables neatly arranged in a bowl on a table, you are looking at an example of food art in action.
- Foodies around the world have been carving fruit for centuries. But there’s one thing modern and past artists who work with fruit have in common: they must carve quickly, since some types of fruit turn brown fast!
- The most commonly carved fruits and veggies are those with thick, sturdy flesh and rinds, such as melon, carrots, radishes, pineapples, and ginger roots.
- Watermelon pizza is only the tip of the food-art iceberg! Try cutting shapes from slices of fruit with a cookie cutter, or building sculptures with toothpick supports. Just remember that adult supervision is a must when using sharp tools!
- Have your child place one whole strawberry in the center of each pizza. Use a sharp knife to cut each slice into six wedges. Cover and refrigerate for up to three hours, or eat right away.