This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at Ravenouskitchen.com or in her cookbook, One Pan Whole Family.
Summer signals hot, sunny days, cold swimming pools and icy watermelon. Someone once said a chilled watermelon is a good time waiting to happen and on a hot day, a cold watermelon slice with juice dripping down your chin…well, it’s hard to beat. Most of us have memories of eating a large wedge of melon out in the yard followed by spitting seeds into the grass. Though the kids might miss it, the contest of who could spit watermelon seeds the farthest will not be missed at our house since delicious new varieties of seedless watermelon are in plentiful supply. Since we don’t have to laboriously pick out the seeds, there are plenty of easy ways to eat watermelon in salads and cocktails this summer.
Rich in electrolytes and water content, melons are nature’s sport drink. Watermelons are low in calories and plentiful in health promoting phytonutrients and antioxidants such as lycopene (they have even more than tomatoes) and vitamin C making this vegetable (yes, watermelon is a veg) not only good but good for you.
Picking the Perfect Melon
It’s easy to pick a sweet, ripe watermelon. First look at the color. The skin should be dark green and dull. A shiny watermelon may not be ripe. Next, pick it up. It should be heavy, indicating lots of juice. Pick up a few and see which is the heaviest for its size. Then look for the yellow spot on the bottom where it rested in the field. If the spot is small look for another. You’re looking for a large golden area indicating ripeness. The last test is to give it a knock with your knuckles. It should sound hollow. If it just sounds heavy or dull, try another until you find a good one. It might take a few minutes but this is how you find the sweetest and ripest melon.
The All-Star Watermelon Recipe Lineup
July is National Watermelon Month and to help get you in the mood for melon I’ve included a recipe for the simplest, most beautiful and refreshing salad ever in the form of a Watermelon Mojito Salad. You love the drink and you’ll love this crunchy namesake salad as well, especially as it comes together in about 15 minutes. Watermelon, cucumber and red onion are great partners with the lime and mint dressing and make this salad a match with just about anything you happen to be grilling up. Served really cold, this dish refreshes like a splash in the face without getting wet.
For gorgeous pink cocktails, blend the watermelon in a food processor or blender then strain the juice and discard the pulp. The juice will keep in the fridge for up to a week and it’s fun to have around since watermelon water is not only delish for general drinking but it’s remarkably fluent with vodka, rum and tequila. Plus, who doesn’t like a luscious pink drink? With garnishes of mint and lime? Sign me up.
The first cocktail is, you guessed it, a Watermelon Mojito. With just a touch of sweetness from agave and orange scented Cointreau, this cocktail is not too sweet but fruity, limey, minty and watermelon blushy.
The second drink is a Watermelon Margarita made with watermelon, silver tequila, lime and a touch of agave for sweetness. This super simple marg is the essence of summer…easy, breezy and sure to refresh.
Next is a riff on that other summer drink favorite…rosé. What could be easier than adding a splash of watermelon to a flute of sparkling wine. It’s a match made for summer and this pretty in pink drink is sure to please, especially with a drizzle of Midori which adds a green haze at the bottom of the glass.
Last but not least is a non-alcoholic watermelon lemonade. Citrus partners beautifully with watermelon and this blush version of lemonade is delicious as is or used as a base for cocktails. Just add vodka, rum or tequila for those who like a little zip.
These ideas should get you started and hopefully have planted the seeds (watermelon seeds that is) for your own versions of watermelon salads and drinks. Just think pink!