Keiki in the Kitchen: 3 Hawaiʻi Watermelon Recipes That Will Wow

Li hing mui kebabs with creamy Romanoff sauce and other fun ideas from one of our Hawaiʻi chefs.


Watermelon Kebab Romanoff Sauce Tiki Grill And Bar Photo Karen Db Photography

A sweet drizzle added to fresh fruit in fun shapes akes for a tasty summer treat. Photo: Karen DB Photography


Ice-cold watermelon wedges are a surefire hit for all ages. Why not turn the healthy, after-school snack into a quick flavor experiment?


Chef  Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Grill and Bar introduced three combinations that surprised and delighted parents and kids alike at our recent Keiki in the Kitchen workshop at the Hawai‘i Children’s Discovery Center. First, local salt added crunch and a surprising sweetness to the fresh fruit. Kids tasted the subtle differences between smoky, black salt and red ‘alaea salt. Next, the chef whipped up a rich Romanoff sauce that added an almost cheesecake-like decadence to melon pieces cut in playful shapes. Some kids couldn’t stop dipping their fruit skewers. We spotted others eating the sauce by the spoonful.


The final dish was a Tiki’s original. The watermelon salad with savory local cheese, tangy balsamic vinegar and salty olives had the kids gobbling up greens without complaint. We shaped the melon with cookie cutters for a keiki-friendly version of Tiki’s signature salad. Or, you can layer the ingredients on top of simple, streamlined slices to create chic plates perfect for grown-up parties.


See also:  🍉 Cool Down with This Watermelon Coconut Slushy Recipe From Kale and Caramel


Nasuti focuses on featuring local produce and ingredients on his menu at Tiki’s, so he brought Hawai‘i-grown watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe and strawberries to our workshop. Feel free to add in local pineapple, papaya or any other fruit currently in season to create your own, personal fruit kabobs.


Learn more about locally owned, locally focused Tiki’s Grill & Bar’s award-winning keiki menu—every meal comes with a flying disk, souvenir cup and a killer view of the sunset—at

Tiki’s Watermelon Salad

By Chef Ronnie Nasuti

Feta Watermelon Salad Tiki Grill And Bar Photo Karen Db Photography 1200

Note: No micro arugula? Chef Ronnie Nasuti often substitutes local mizuna, which offers a similar, peppery bite. Photo: Karen DB Photography


Sweet and savory flavors in this signature Tiki’s Grill & Bar salad appeal to both kids and adults.


Chef tip: Start with the balsamic vinegar. If olive oil is added first, the watermelon will suck up the oil and won’t absorb any vinegar.



  • 6-ounce watermelon slab (about 6 inches by 1/2  inch by 3 inches)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Hawaiian salt, as needed
  • 1/2  cup micro arugula
  • 1 ounce Naked Cow feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon mint pesto
  • 1 tablespoon harissa, optional, for spice lovers



1.  Place watermelon slab on plate.

2. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over fruit, followed by olive oil.

3. Sprinkle Hawaiian salt over the watermelon, then layer the ingredients in this order: mint pesto, micro arugula and feta cheese.

4. For spice lovers, serve with a dash of harissa for dipping.


Mint Pesto

By Chef Ronnie Nasuti

Child making pesto

Chef Tip: Why a mortar and pestle? Food processors are quicker, but the extra bruising of the basil will turn the sauce brown faster. Photo: Karen DB Photography


Fresh mint adds a bright  note to rich basil pesto.



  •  1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  2 garlic cloves, smashed
  •  15 basil leaves
  •  25 mint leaves
  •  1 tablespoon macadamia nuts, chopped
  •  1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  •  2 tablespoons Kalamata olives, chopped
  •  Salt and pepper, to taste



1.  Muddle everything but the olives with a mortar and pestle.

2. Mix in the olives.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Li Hing Mui Melon Kabobs with Romanoff Sauce

By Chef Ronnie Nasuti


Kids with watermelon kebabs

Photo: Karen DB Photography


A kid-friendly version of a classic cream sauce adds a decadent tang to fruit in fun shapes.


Chef Tip: For an adult version of the Romanoff sauce, add a dash of brandy after the kids go to bed.



  • Watermelon, cut into slabs
  • Honeydew, cantaloupe or other melons cut into wedges
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Fresh mint
  • Li hing mui powder
  • Skewers
  • Romanoff sauce



1. Use a melon baller and cookie cutters to cut the melons.

2. Skewer fruit and fresh mint leaves, alternating colors and fruit.

3. Sprinkle kabobs with li hing mui powder. Dip in Romanoff sauce and enjoy!


Kid-Friendly Romanoff Sauce

By Chef Ronnie Nasuti


Sour cream mixed with whipped cream makes for a slightly tangy, not-too-sweet sauce that our kid testers couldn’t quit dipping into.



  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar



1. Mix sour cream and brown sugar in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add sugar and whip until thick.

3. Fold cream into sour cream mixture and blend well.

4. Drizzle on top of kabobs or serve in dipping bowls.


Watermelon Pops

By Chef Ronnie Nasuti


Watermelon Honey Pops Tiki Grill And Bar Photo Karen Db Photography

Photo: Karen DB Photography


Chef Tip: Remember, you can always add salt but you can’t take it away. So start with a small sprinkle and add as you go.


Note: Don’t overdo the honey. It’s actually the salt that brings out the natural sweetness of fruit.


Local salt adds crunch and enhanced sweetness to simple wedges.



  • Watermelon wedges
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Local honey
  • Gourmet local salts



1.Use a paring knife to make a small cut in the rind. Work the popsicle stick in through the cut into the melon.

2. Let kids drizzle local honey onto each slice. Sprinkle various salts on top.

3. Freeze the pop or eat right away!



Want More Kid-Friendly Recipes?

Start at our list of family recipes for more dishes from local chefs and our team including:

  • Spaghetti tacos
  • Chocolate pasta
  • Strawberry shortcake in a jar
  • Homemade marshmallows and graham crackers for s’mores
  • Summer rolls with peanut sauce
  • Turkey-dog sushi
  • Strawberry and kale smoothie