Correction: An earlier version of this story omitted the lime juice from the steps. The recipe has been updated.

Sophia, 7, and Noah Moran, 5, scoop out a watermelon to make Melon Salad With Chilies and Mint. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Melons are delicious summery fruits. They taste great by themselves or in a salad with strawberries, blueberries and almost any other fruit. They also can be cut into shapes — an easy one is the round shape you get when you use a melon baller. (See tip at right for using that tool.) But sometimes it’s fun to prepare a food you like in an unexpected way. The following recipe combines melons with the tartness of lime, the cool flavor of mint and the spice of chili pepper. It’s an interesting twist on a typical fruit salad.

Melon Salad With Chilies and Mint

Working with fresh chili peppers can be challenging for even experienced cooks. The capsaicin oil from the seeds and ribs inside can sting for quite a while if traces of it end up on your hands and face, which is why kid cooks should wear food-safe gloves for the task. Another way to go: Sprinkle in 1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes instead.

MAKE AHEAD: For best flavor, the salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Republished with permission from ChopChop magazine; adapted from a recipe in “Cook Fight,” by Kim Severson and Julia Moskin (HarperCollins, 2012).

The salad was made using a melon baller. The simple tool transforms any kind of melon into spheres, or balls. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)


●Juice from 2 limes (1/4 cup)

●1 small green (serrano or jalapeño) chili pepper, seeded and minced (may substitute 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)

●4 cups melon balls or cubes (from 1 large cantaloupe or honeydew or 1/2 small seedless watermelon)

●10 fresh mint leaves or basil leaves, chopped


●Combine the lime juice, chili pepper, melon balls or cubes and the chopped mint or basil leaves in a mixing bowl. Stir to blend the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 hours before serving.

Nutrition | Per serving: 70 calories, 1 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 15 g sugar

Recipe tested by Toni L. Sandys; e-mail questions to

Making melon balls

Cut the melon in half (this is a good job for an adult), and slice a small piece from the bottom of each half so that you can steady the halves while you work. For a cantaloupe, scrape out the seeds and discard them. Plunge the edge of the melon baller into the melon, and rotate the edge all the way around to make a perfect sphere, or ball. Put the balls in a bowl. Repeat until you’ve balled up all the usable fruit, then discard the rind — or use it as a container for your finished fruit salad.

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