Thai Watermelon Salad with Crunchy Watermelon Rind
Most recipes that call for lemongrass only use the bulbous bottom parts, but here you can use the leftover top part of the stalks, or use 2 whole lemongrass stalks.
To make the lemongrass syrup, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves (about 2-3 minutes). Add the lemongrass stalks, return to a simmer, and cook until the lemongrass flavor is infused into the syrup (about 5-7 minutes). Let cool, then strain.
To make the salad, remove the white rind from the watermelon. Chop the melon flesh into ¾-inch cubes and refrigerate until serving. Cut the rind into strips until you have 2 cups. Place in a small bowl and add 2 Tbsp of the lemongrass syrup, 2 Tbsp of the lime juice, 1 Tbsp of the fish sauce, the shallot, basil, and half of the serrano. Toss to combine, then cover to marinate, and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
To serve, place the cold watermelon cubes in a large bowl and cover with the marinated rind and its juices. Season with the remaining 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp fish sauce, and the other half of the serrano pepper. Add the spinach and gently toss. Serve immediately while cold.