Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Cooking

Five ideas for cooking with watermelon

Watermelon has always felt indulgent to me: a staple of backyard Fourth of July celebrations, a respite from the summer heat. The last time I had it, I was sipping a watermelon-mint cooler in a Brooklyn cafe, trying to escape the sweltering air that hovered between the skyscrapers. It worked.

Originating in Africa, watermelon has been a source of rehydration for thousands of years. Egyptian pharaohs were buried with the fruit so they could drink its water in their journey to the afterlife, according to National Geographic. The modern variety is much sweeter than the Egyptians’ melon, but, at around 92 percent water, it’s still a great source of refreshment. Plus, it’s good for you.

Watermelons are "loaded with antioxidants, such as vitamin C, that help reduce an individual’s risk of cancer," explains Melody Chavez-Robben, a registered dietitian in the Tampa Bay area. It also contains vitamin A, which keeps your hair and skin moisturized. And as indulgent as it may seem, it’s only 40 calories per serving.

National Watermelon Day was Friday, so we were inspired to come up with five themed recipes, ranging from a watermelon salsa to a barbecue sauce.

Emily Young, Times correspondent

Feta Watermelon Tabbouleh

Combining savory feta cheese with the sweetness of watermelon, this tabbouleh salad makes for an elegant summer meal, whether you’re treating yourself or serving guests. To begin, place 1 cup quick-cooking, fine bulgur wheat in a medium bowl and cover with very hot water. Place a towel over the bowl to trap the steam, and let it soak for 30 minutes. Drain. Repeat the process. Pour the bulgur wheat into a large bowl and set aside. For the remaining salad ingredients, prepare the following: Wash and finely chop 1 ½ cups flat-leaf parsley. Remove the seeds from 8 ounces of watermelon, peel and cut into ½-inch cubes. Wash and peel half an English cucumber, then cut into ½-inch cubes. Finely chop ½ cup red onion. Wash and chop ? cup fresh dill. When you’re done chopping, set the ingredients aside. You’ll combine them with the bulgur wheat later. To make the dressing, in a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, then use a whisk to stir in 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the dressing over the bulgur wheat and toss. Crumble 6 ounces feta cheese into the bowl with the bulgur wheat. Add all your chopped ingredients: the flat-leaf parsley, watermelon, English cucumber, red onion and fresh dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray Every Day.

Watermelon Salsa

Boasting both watermelon and mango, two of my favorite summer fruits, this salsa will turn heads at any party. When chopping the fruit, try to cut it into very small, symmetrical cubes. It may take a little extra time, but this will make your presentation impressive. For those who prefer their salsa on the mild side, you can reduce the amount of pepper and substitute a sweet pepper like a Cubanelle for the jalapeno. To make, add the following ingredients to a bowl: 1 ½ teaspoons lime zest (from about 1 lime), ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes), 1 tablespoon sugar and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine. Next, add the remaining ingredients: 3 cups seeded and finely chopped watermelon; 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced; 1 mango, peeled and diced; 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced; 1 small red onion, finely chopped; and 8 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped. Toss gently to combine. Keep the salsa in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. Before serving, stir in ½ teaspoon garlic salt. The salsa is delicious with tortilla or pita chips. Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine.

Greek-Style
Watermelon Salad

To avoid excess liquid in this salad, try draining the watermelon and fresh tomatoes in a strainer while you chop the other ingredients. Add the dressing right before serving. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups cubed watermelon; 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped; 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped; 1 small red onion, sliced; ? cup pitted kalamata olives; ? cup crumbled feta; and some chopped parsley and mint. Drizzle with olive oil and red-wine vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss and serve. Recipe from the New York Times.

Watermelon Barbecue Sauce

Watermelon as a barbecue sauce? You bet. The next time you have a summer barbecue, use this sweet-and-tangy sauce to wow your guests. Begin by cutting the red flesh of a fresh watermelon into chunks, de-seeding it and placing it in your blender. Blend for 30 seconds. The juice will be frothy, but that’s okay — it will just make your sauce thicker. Pour ½ cup of the watermelon juice into a large bowl and add the following ingredients: ½ cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 minced garlic cloves and 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. You can serve the sauce as a dip for roasted vegetables or use it as a delicious way to marinate meat. To marinate, pour the sauce over your meat, reserving some to use for basting. Let the meat marinate for several hours or overnight, keeping it covered and refrigerated. Because the recipe makes 1 ½ cups of sauce, you should have some left over — even after basting — to serve over your cooked meat. Refrigerate the sauce until you use it. Recipe adapted from the Spruce Eats.

Watermelon Smoothie

Start your morning right with this watermelon smoothie, which only takes minutes to make. Simply combine the following ingredients in your blender: 2 cups frozen seedless watermelon chunks, ¼ cup plain yogurt, ? teaspoon cinnamon, 1 ½ cups skim milk and a pinch of salt. You’ll know it’s ready to drink when it’s smooth and creamy. Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

Comments
Expert advice on baking classic French tarts: recipes, tips and tools

Expert advice on baking classic French tarts: recipes, tips and tools

BELLEAIR BLUFFSTim Brown was dead right. It was time for tough love, right at the beginning of class: Most of us entertain, most of us can get our act together with some hors d’oeuvres, an appetizer and an entree with appropriate side dishes. But whe...
Published: 08/15/18
It won’t take long to fall in love with this fool

It won’t take long to fall in love with this fool

"Fool" might be an odd name for dessert, but it has been served for centuries, and no one is quite sure why it is called that. Making it, though, is a pretty smart thing to do considering how easy it is and the reward of doing so: a delightfully crea...
Published: 08/15/18
Put old bread to good use in a Peach and Mozzarella Panzanella Salad

Put old bread to good use in a Peach and Mozzarella Panzanella Salad

It was a pilgrimage I had long wanted to make, but the timing was never right: Saturday mornings at Born and Bread Bakehouse in Lakeland. I had tried Born and Bread’s bread once before, slathered in some house-made ricotta cheese that sent me on a ri...
Published: 08/14/18
Taste test: Texas toast

Taste test: Texas toast

Texas may have invented extra thick and buttery toast, but plenty of us enjoy the slathered slices with our own barbecues or Italian night dinners. Our judges like the addition of cheese to the toast, browned in the oven with a few herbs dotting the ...
Published: 08/13/18
Find your groove with jam

Find your groove with jam

It took me an embarrassing number of years to overcome my (unreasonable) paranoia about making jam that would somehow give my friends and family botulism. The nasty, if rare, illness — which can lead to paralysis, death, etc. — is caused by a toxin g...
Published: 08/08/18
Five ideas for cooking with watermelon

Five ideas for cooking with watermelon

Watermelon has always felt indulgent to me: a staple of backyard Fourth of July celebrations, a respite from the summer heat. The last time I had it, I was sipping a watermelon-mint cooler in a Brooklyn cafe, trying to escape the sweltering air that ...
Published: 08/07/18
Grits make a compact cushion for spicy shrimp in this recipe

Grits make a compact cushion for spicy shrimp in this recipe

By Leah EskinGrit is grainy and annoying, as in: What’s that grit on the countertop? It’s grating, as in: Scrubbing the countertop makes me grit my teeth. It honors pluck: That girl’s got grit. Perhaps it could also pinpoint one speck of the breakfas...
Published: 08/07/18
Roasting tomatoes is a delicious way to use them at their summer peak, like in this steak recipe

Roasting tomatoes is a delicious way to use them at their summer peak, like in this steak recipe

Sometimes I spend hours in the kitchen working on new recipes, starting with a kernel of an idea and playing with it a bit, adding stuff here and tweaking stuff there. Other times, I shamelessly steal recipe ideas from my friends. My husband and I we...
Published: 08/07/18
Taste test: Ginger salad dressing

Taste test: Ginger salad dressing

After years of enjoying Japanese restaurants, I have tried numerous times to re-create a delicious ginger salad dressing. Every time, though, I fall short of that tangy-sweet balance and chunky gingery mixture that perks up even a plain, green salad....
Published: 08/06/18
10 ideas for no-cook summer meals

10 ideas for no-cook summer meals

Now that summer is in full swing, the oven roasts my apartment along with my food. Even turning on the stovetop is risky, dooming me to sticky misery for the sake of a single tortilla. I’ve started eating cereal for dinner.We’ve got a couple more mon...
Published: 08/01/18