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Celebrate National Watermelon Day With This Nutrient-Packed Poke Bowl

Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer By Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
Celebrate National Watermelon Day With This Vegan Take On A Poke Bowl

Today is National Watermelon Day, and while we let some of these faux holidays go without acknowledgment, we think this iconic summer fruit deserves a spotlight. While we might be more familiar with eating our slices of watermelon freshly sliced or blended into juice, this recipe from the iconic Cafe Gratitude's executive chef Seizan Dreux Ellis has another take: bake it, and let it stand in for raw tuna in a poke bowl.

"Watermelon is the perfect replacement because (once lightly cooked) it visually looks like raw tuna, has the same mouthfeel as raw tuna, and absorbs the poke marinade well," Dreux Ellis tells mindbodygreen. "Cooking the watermelon in the oven reduces its water content, which makes it less crunchy, less sweet, and more soft, giving it the same texture as raw fish."

This recipe gives you a full guide to making the poke bowl as it's served at the L.A. café, but the watermelon poke itself is pretty versatile: "You could chop the watermelon poke up and add it to a sushi roll, top the poke on a green salad, or use it as a replacement for tuna tartare," suggests Dreux Ellis.

And some bonus advice? Don't toss those watermelon rinds! They're actually edible and are the perfect candidate for crunchy, satisfying pickles.

Watermelon Poke Bowl


For the watermelon poke (makes 3 cups)

  • 11 cups watermelon
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • ½ tsp. chili flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp. ginger
  • 4 scallions
  • 6 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. salt

For the poke bowl:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 100 g forbidden black rice
  • 6 oz. watermelon poke 
  • Watermelon Radish 
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 tbsp. pickled ginger
  • ½ cup edamame 
  • ¼ cup Sriracha Mayo 
  • ½ cup cucumber salad
  • ⅛ cup pickled carrots
  • 3 cilantro sprigs
  • ½ tsp. black and white sesame seeds
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To make the watermelon poke:

  1. To make marinade, blend together all ingredients except watermelon. Set aside. 
  2. Cut watermelon into 1-inch cubes and toss with 3 oz. (90 g) of marinade. 
  3. Line a sheet pan with parchment and bake watermelon at 350°F for 10 minutes. 
  4. Mix watermelon after 10 minutes and bake for an additional 10 minutes. *Watermelon should not be burnt on the edges.*
  5. Once watermelon is soft but not mushy, remove from oven and cool. 
  6. Pour over remaining marinade and let sit overnight. 

To make the poke bowl:

  1. Heat 2 tsp. of olive oil, add forbidden rice, and heat completely through.
  2. Plate rice in center of bowl, plating clockwise starting at noon.
  3. Put the watermelon radish, avocado, pickled ginger, edamame, sriracha mayo, and cucumber salad into a bowl.
  4. Top with watermelon poke.
  5. Garnish with pickled carrots, cilantro sprigs, and finish with the sesame seeds over the entire plate.
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