Aug 02, 2012
Watermelon Recipes: Beyond the Barbeque
BY EILEEN GOLTZ
Special to The Standard
My foodie friends and I are firm believers in hostess/host gifts. Nothing huge, just flowers, a bottle of wine or some really good chocolates that are too expensive to buy for yourself but that we’re all secretly hoping hosts will open before the evening is over. A nice “something” that says thanks for inviting me over, I’m so happy to eat your food. This week however, after calling my buddies and their spouses to come over for an impromptu dinner three people showed up with watermelons. Yeah, that was my first thought too, what the heck am I going to do with three watermelons (I ended up donating two to a food pantry in case inquiring minds want to know).
Still one watermelon does offer a lot of options on what to do with all that fruit. Watermelon season runs from May to September, but peak yummy time is July to late August. You should also know that a watermelon is composed of a little over 90 water and is a good source of Vitamins A and C, and lycopene (helps fight cancer).
My tried and true way to pick the best melon is the thump method (stop laughing, that’s what it’s called). You thump the melon by flicking your index finger off the thumb against the melon. You should hear a deep, rich thud/thump sound. You should look for a melon whose skin is slightly dull and slightly waxy. It should yield slightly to pressure and it should also be symmetrical and feel heavy for its size. The bottom (where it sits on the ground) should be slightly yellowish in color. Your whole watermelon can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week but a cut watermelon should be wrapped tightly, refrigerated and used within one or two days.
The watermelon isn’t just another pretty fruit in the produce section it can actually be used in pretty much the same way you do a tomato There are more than 500 varieties of watermelon available and they are generally divided into icebox and picnic categories. Icebox melons are generally five to 15 pounds (fit in an icebox, duh) and the picnics are larger, weighing more than 15 lbs. Watermelons are not just the juicy red/pink color we all know and crave. There are also sweet and wonderful white, pink, yellow and orange watermelons available both with and without seeds. Just remember, the color and size don’t always determine the sweetness of your melon and the ones called seedless aren’t really seedless they typically contain teeny tiny, white seeds.
Ok, that’s more watermelon info than you’ll probably ever want or need, on to the recipes.
WATERMELON FETA SALAD
8 cups shredded romaine and red leaf lettuce
4 cups watermelon, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
1 thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In large salad bowl combine the lettuce, watermelon, onion, and feta. Gently toss to combine. This can be made up 2 to 3 hours in advance. When you’re ready to serve drizzle the olive oil, pepper and salt over the top and toss to coat. Serves 8
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large sweet onions thinly sliced
1/2 cup sweet white wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
3/4 to 1 pound block of mozzarella cheese (cut into 16 slices)
24 slices seedless watermelon (cut to match the size of the cheese slices)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
In a large skillet saute the onion in the olive oil. After about 3 or 4 minutes, add the wine and sugar. Continue cooking, stirring until the onions start to turn golden then reduce the heat to a simmer cover and let cook and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the balsamic vinegar, cook for 2 minutes then remove the mixture from the heat, let cool to room temperature. You will need 8 salad plates with 3 pieces of watermelon and 2 pieces of cheese for each salad. Starting with a piece of watermelon alternate a slice of cheese and watermelon in a stack. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the onion mixture over watermelon stack. Decorate with the basil leaves. Serves 8
8 cups finely-diced seedless watermelon (about 6 pounds without the rind)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot or green onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Puree 1/2 mixture in a blender or food processor. Don’t process too much you want some chunks .Puree the other halves and add to the bowl. Stir in the remaining diced mixture. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Served 6.
WATERMELON, BLACK BEAN AND CORN SALSA
3 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
Juice from 2 fresh limes
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
3 cups chopped seedless watermelon
Mix together all ingredients until well combined.. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve cold. Serves 14 to 16 depending on the size of the serving.
WATERMELON AND MANGO SALSA
Great with homemade cinnamon tortilla chips* or over grilled chicken or fish
2 cups seeded watermelon chunks (bite sized)
1 1/2 cup mango (chopped)
1/4 to 1/3 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 small jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped (use a bell pepper if you don’t want heat)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a glass bowl combine all the ingredients and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Makes approx. 4 cups
*Take 4 or 5 flour tortillas, brush them with butter or margarine, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, cut it into 8 triangles and bake @ 350 until golden.
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