Recipes that celebrate Farmers Markets: Watermelon Poke Bowl

by | Aug 9, 2022

In celebration of National Farmers Market Week we’ve worked with NCDA&CS Marketing Division’s dietician, Freda Butner, to bring you healthy and delicious seasonal recipes that use plenty of ingredients bountiful at farmers markets across the state.  Check out her blog below for a creative way to enjoy watermelon.

Talk about food color wheels –this poké bowl is almost too pretty to eat!

Break free from the heat and make-your-own poké bowl bar. (Think baked potato bar.) Very little cooking is involved, making for a relaxing, chilled patio dinner. Start with rice and ripe watermelon. It’s easy to slice and dice part of a large watermelon and refrigerate it for use in a main dish later.

Go ahead and poke (pun intended) about the market for alternatives. Although this recipe calls for edamame and avocado, which are very healthy, there are other seasonal and local substitutes to please everyone. A few suggestions include blanched asparagus instead of avocado, cut yellow, sweet corn, chopped purple cabbage, and grapes, to name a few. Cooked and chilled butterbeans are a great switch out for the edamame.

You can practically see the nutrition radiating from this colorful bowl. The darker and brighter colors indicate superfoods. Nuts have a similar nutrition profile to avocados. Asparagus is one of the few vegetables that contain glutathione, a potent antioxidant that supports liver health. It is also rich in folate, vitamin K, selenium, and B vitamins like thiamin and riboflavin. You will not often find a combination of healthy brain-promoting ingredients in one dish.

Flexibility is essential in the heat of a North Carolina August! Throw in some chilled shrimp and pecans for added protein. The possibilities are endless to satisfy your family and guests.

Recipe adapted from Chef David Viviano and the National Watermelon Board

Watermelon Poke Bowl


• 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
• ¼ cup sesame oil
• 2 limes, juiced
• 2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (dried is OK too but use only about 2 tsp.)
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon sambal (any basic chili paste will work –sriracha, harissa, etc.)
• 4 cups medium-dice watermelon
• 8 cups cooked short-grain rice (make a day earlier and use leftover chilled rice)
• 1 cup edamame
• 1 cup medium-dice cucumber
• 1 avocado, medium dice
• ½ cup pickled ginger (from a jar)
• ¼ cup sliced scallion
• As needed, toasted black and white sesame seeds


1. In a medium bowl, assemble poké sauce by whisking the soy, sesame oil, lime juice, grated ginger, sugar, and sambal or chili paste.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the watermelon with the poké sauce. Utilize just enough sauce to coat watermelon. Refrigerate remaining sauce for later use—store for up to 7 days.
3. For each serving, place 2 cups rice in the bottom of a serving bowl and top with 1 cup watermelon poké. Arrange ¼ cup edamame (or butter beans,) ¼ cup cucumber, ¼ avocado ( or asparagus,) 2 tablespoons pickled ginger, and 1 tablespoon scallion and arrange according to the picture. Garnish with sesame seeds. Feel free to drizzle a little of the sauce over the other vegetables. Serve immediately. Serves 4.