Spicy foods may be the last thing on your mind in sweaty July temperatures, but did you know a hot and spicy meal can actually help cool you down?
We promise this Spicy Watermelon Salad with Queso Fresco and Tequila-Lime Dressing will do just that. Chowing down on this jalapeño-laced fruit salad will make you sweat, which gives your body a long-lasting cool down through a process called “gustatory facial sweating.” It’s the reason those in the hottest countries eat some of the world’s spiciest foods!
In this recipe, we’re also relying on salty, tangy Wisconsin queso fresco cheese to help us chill out. Dairy products—including cheese—have a cooling effect when mixed with capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that make them so spicy.
Whether you’re heading off to a summer potluck, picnic or neighborhood block party, this colorful fruit salad is easy to tweak for anyone’s taste buds. Reduce the amount of jalapeño for less of a fiery kick, omit the tequila in the boozy dressing if you’re feeding little ones, or add in any extra fruit (strawberries would be a tasty addition!) you picked up from the farmer’s market.
For more spicy recipes to beat the summer heat, visit www.EatWisconsinCheese.com.
3/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided
1/3 to 1/2 cup simple syrup*
3 tablespoons silver tequila
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 1/2 cups watermelon, cut in 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups honeydew melon, cut in 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 cups pineapple, cut in 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 mangoes, preferably ataulfo or manila (yellow), cut in bite-size pieces
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2-3 tablespoons jalapeño chile, or to taste, small dice
1 1/3 cups Wisconsin queso fresco or queso blanco, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
Combine 1/2 cup lime juice, simple syrup and 3 tablespoons tequila. Taste for sweetness, adding additional simple syrup if necessary. Set dressing aside.
Pour remaining lime juice over onions in small bowl. Salt. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
In large bowl, combine watermelon, honeydew, pineapple, mango, cilantro and jalapeño. Drain onions and add to salad, discarding lime juice. Starting with 1/2 cup, pour dressing over and stir. Add additional dressing, if desired. Add queso fresco and stir gently. Set aside and let season 10-15 minutes. Best served immediately in shallow bowls to capture some of the juices/dressing with the fruit.
*To make simple syrup, place 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil and boil briefly, until sugar dissolves. Sool. Some liquor stores sell bottle simple syrup.