Thursday, July 21, 2011

Watermelon love.

It's starts early at our house.  Zoe, 10 months.
I am a watermelon fanatic. Sometimes I lay in bed thinking about what I would do without watermelon if I survived the apocalypse.  After a minute I have to think about something else because it's so disconcerting and there's really no substitute.  

During the summer months we always have cold watermelon in the fridge and an uncut melon on the counter so we never run out. I adore it in every imaginable way but have often found that watermelon drinks usually miss the mark.  Strange consistency, off-flavor and temperature problems are some of the things that come to mind.  

I love the idea of watermelon drinks because at their best they are refreshing, hydrating, summery and perfectly sweet.  And they can be a creative solution for that last hunk of melon that's been sitting in the fridge. Additionally, they are very versatile:  equally delicious in cocktails or as a slushie for a child's birthday party.

Watermelon Slushie

My 5-year-old daughter, Savana, showed me the method for this super yummy slushie after learning how to make it in day camp.  Nothing revolutionary but really good on a hot day.

2-3 cups cubed, seedless (or de-seeded) watermelon
1/4 - 1/3 cup light agave nectar (or 1/3 cup sugar) 
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
3-4 cups ice cubes (if you use frozen strawberries then you'll need less ice, closer to 2 cups) 

Add watermelon, lemon juice and 1/4 cup agave to the jar of your blender and blend on high until smooth (about 20 seconds).  You may have to press down the melon with a spoon.  Be sure and stop the blender before doing so.   
Add strawberries and blend until smooth (about 20 seconds).
Add ice to blender a handful at a time, blending in between batches for 10 seconds or so (until smooth). 
Take a little taste and add a couple more tablespoons of agave if necessary. The sweetness of the watermelon and strawberries can vary quite a bit from batch to batch, so this ensures it's never too sweet. 

*If you use fresh strawberries it will have a more liquid-y consistency.  If you use frozen then it will be thicker and more daiquiri like.  Serves 4.


As I said, I will eat watermelon any which way. It grows on every continent except Anatarica and so is a part of many different cuisines.  Some of which highlight it in very interesting ways:  Russian pickled watermelon,  Indian watermelon curry, and Sicilian watermelon pudding, to name a few. Below, is a Greek themed watermelon salad for those of you who are a little more adventurous and enjoy a sweet/savory flavor combo.  It's lovely with warm, whole wheat pita dripping in olive oil. 


Watermelon Salad

I adapted this recipe from one featured in Saveur magazine.  And while it's easy and delicious, very late at night I have been known to just eat chunks of watermelon, feta and whole kalamatas while standing at the kitchen sink. 

6 cups cold, seedless (or de-seeded) watermelon, cut into roughly 1 inch cubes
2-4 oz. crumbled feta cheese (about 1/8 - 1/4 cup), according to taste
15 kalamata olives*
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1 lime, halved

Optional: 
jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 small red or sweet onion, thinly sliced and soaked in ice water for 20 minutes (sometimes I don't have the patience for this and the result is a much more onion-y experience)

In a medium bowl gently toss watermelon, olives, mint (& jalapeno and onion, if using). Add salt and crushed black pepper to taste.
Sprinkle with feta and squeeze the juice of the lime over the other ingredients, very gently mixing to distribute feta throughout then divide between four bowls. This salad can be eaten as is or over a bed of arugula or mixed greens with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  

*If your kalamatas come with pits (the yummiest do), then you can pit them by laying them on a cutting board and using the flat side of the blade of a large chef's knife, gently smash each olive.  Once they are smashed you can remove the pit easily with your fingers and then tear each olive into two or three pieces before adding them to the mixing bowl.  Serves 4.

Watermelon is a great source of essential vitamins A and C. It's also a good source of Vitamins B6 and B1, which both aid the nervous system, among other things. Watermelon also contains a high concentration of the cancer fighting carotenoid lycopene.  And as you can imagine, it helps prevent dehydration: consisting of 92% water and beneficial amounts of rehydrating salts such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium.  For detailed info about watermelon's nutritional content and benefits go here.


  

5 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post. It sounds very tempting, even during the coldish weather that we have in England now. I will make it this weekend and report the results to you.
    Lots of love
    Yolanta xx

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  2. Yola, Savana will be very pleased to hear you're trying her recipe all the way in England!

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  3. Love that watermelon love!!

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  4. I tried your recipe for Watermelon Salad tonight for dinner and it was absolutely delicious. I had to substitute lime juice for lemon juice though. We had it with a simple omelet on the side.
    Thank you for inspiring me!

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  5. Wonderful! I'm so happy to share food discoveries with others. I have used lemon instead of lime, too, and it was just fine. Adaptability is key to successfully cooking at home.

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