By Elke Probkevitz
Watermelon is the ultimate in refreshing summer produce. And while it is oh so satisfying to take a bite of a juicy wedge all on its own, there are many ways to enjoy this seasonal treat. To make it special, don’t just carve a “baby basket” out of that large melon; do something different! Here are some new ideas to help you discover different ways to enjoy a wonderfully wet wedge of watermelon.
Gazpacho. Instead of the traditional tomato gazpacho, create a refreshing chilled soup with watermelon blended with cucumber, bell pepper, onion, garlic, lime juice, and jalapeño for heat. No cooking required makes this a laid-back summer starter.
In a salad. Watermelon has become a very popular addition to vegetable salads, combined with feta cheese, olives, and mint. A salad including watermelon can have many other variations, including strawberries and chicken, pineapple and basil, and spinach and balsamic vinegar. Come up with your own combination of flavors.
Salsa. A salsa made with watermelon is a sweet, savory, and crunchy condiment that goes great with grilled chicken or meats or served with tortilla chips as an alternative to traditional tomato salsa. Combine with nectarines, basil, and jalapeño for heat. Another variation could be cucumber, bell pepper, fresh corn, and red onion.
Grilled. Grilling fruit creates caramelization and concentrates the flavors. Grill wedges and drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar. Use it to create a stacked salad. Or use grilled watermelon instead of bananas in a banana split, served with pareve or dairy ice cream or sorbet.
Drinks. Purée watermelon straight up for a watermelon water, or blend with juice of lemons, honey, and seltzer for a refreshing watermelon spritzer. Swap out the seltzer for sparkling wine for a watermelon agua fresca for an adult beverage. Adding puréed watermelon to lemonade creates a pink lemonade that’s wonderfully invigorating.
Cake. You can make a cake with watermelon incorporated in the batter using a cake mix and watermelon purée added to the regular ingredients. You can also make a cake out of watermelon alone. Slice the rounded ends off of a large watermelon and cut off the rind so you are left with a round cake-shaped watermelon. Spread whipped cream all over and top with berries, shaved coconut, or sliced almonds. When you cut slices, you will surprise your diners with a beautiful fresh watermelon dessert.
Sorbet or frosty. Purée fresh watermelon in a food processor with lime juice and sweeten with a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, dissolved) to taste. Freeze, stirring every half hour so it doesn’t become too solid, until the liquid is completely frozen. Alternatively, freeze fresh watermelon and then blend with half a banana, lemon juice, and honey. Add a little pineapple or orange juice to thin it out for a frosty treat. v
Easy Vietnamese Watermelon Salad
1½ large English hothouse cucumbers, cut into ½” pieces
3 cups cubed seedless watermelon (about ½”)
3½ Tbsp. fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
⅓ cup coarsely chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts
Combine cucumbers and watermelon in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour to allow liquid to leak out; drain liquid.
Whisk lime juice and hoisin sauce together in a small bowl. Pour over cucumbers and watermelon and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cilantro, mint, and peanuts right before serving.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.