Refreshing watermelon recipes
Sweet, juicy watermelon is a quintessential all-American summer fruit that is usually eaten plain in all its luscious glory or with a simple sprinkle of salt. Watermelon is also an integral ingredient in many refreshing summer dishes and can add something special to your usual summer fare. The mere addition of a few chunks of watermelon to your sweet and savory recipes will give you a surprising burst of welcome melon flavor.
Selecting the sweetest, juiciest watermelon
Choosing the perfect watermelon can get tricky at times because you can't always be sure about the sweetness of the inside from its appearance. There are a few ways to help make the decision, however. Make sure the watermelon has no bruises, unusually soft-spots, dents or cuts in the skin. The watermelon should be fairly symmetrical and have a bright green exterior. It should also be fairly heavy for its size and the bottom of the melon (where it sits while it ripens) should be a yellow color, not white or brown.
How to properly store watermelon
Refrigerate your watermelon until you are ready to eat it. Wash your watermelon before cutting it -- even though you'll be removing the rind, you want to make sure any dirt and bugs have been rinsed off. Store cut pieces of watermelon in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Whole watermelons will last for up to one week, chilled; cut watermelon will stay fresh for up to 3 or 4 days, chilled.
Cooking with watermelon
Because the flesh of a watermelon is so delicate, you must be careful when preparing it. Grilling is a good choice for watermelon, because you can heat it just enough to give it some smoky flavor. Other ideal applications include using watermelon in salsas, guacamoles, and salads as well as for topping burgers or sandwiches. Watermelon is a natural pairing for meat, fish, kebabs and spicy foods.
Makes 8 servings
8 thick watermelon slices, with rind on
Salt, to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
1. Sprinkle watermelon slices with salt on both sides. Place flat in a strainer and let drain for about 1 hour.
2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Rinse watermelon under water and pat dry well with paper towels.
3. Brush watermelon with olive oil on both sides and place on grill. Let cook about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until grill marks are visible. Remove carefully from grill and re-season with salt.
For the flatbread dough:
1 cup warm watermelon juice (105 to 115 degrees F.)
4 teaspoons dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the flatbread topping:
1/3 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
2/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup watermelon juice
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
8 to 10 chunks watermelon
1. Pour 1 cup warm watermelon juice into large bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in oil and salt.
2. Combine both flours in a medium-sized bowl. Stir flour mixture into the yeast mixture to form a dough. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
3. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Put dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine all flatbread topping ingredients (except watermelon chunks) in a large bowl. Set aside.
5. Punch dough down and divide into 4 equal pieces. Wrap again and let dough rise for about 10 minutes.
6. Roll out each dough piece on a lightly floured surface to about a 7-inch square or circle. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Transfer breads to sheets.
7. Top each flatbread dough with one-qaurter of the topping mixture. Place watermelon chunks on top of veggies. Bake flatbreads until cooked through and brown on the bottom, about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
6 avocados, split, seed removed and flesh removed from skin
2 small tomatoes, seeded, diced
1 small red onion, minced
2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
6 watermelon wedges (no rinds), cut into chunks
1. Place avocados in a bowl and mash well. Mix in tomatoes, onions, chiles, cilantro, lime juice and salt.
2. When ready to serve, spoon guacamole in a large bowl and top with watermelon chunks. Serve with crispy tortilla chips.