The sweet juiciness of the watermelon is just one of the reasons we love this refreshing summer fruit.
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Watermelon is an icon of summer. From eating contests at fairs and festivals to carved melon art and farmers market stands laden with the fruit, what’s not to love about something so deliciously refreshing and wonderfully messy? But, there’s more than meets the eye. Organizations such as the National Watermelon Association, established in 1914, and the National Watermelon Promotion Board will tell you everything fun and factual about watermelons, like the fact that a watermelon plant takes 85 to 90 days to become mature enough to harvest, or that these melons are actually quite healthy. The fruit offers excellent levels of vitamins A and C, a good level of vitamin B6, and can serve as a source of potassium, too.
Consisting of six percent sugar and 92 percent water, watermelons have a smooth exterior rind that’s usually green, yellow, or white, and a sweet inside of deep red or pink. The melons come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and while more than 1,200 kinds of watermelon exist and almost 300 varieties are grown in the United States, most people are familiar with about 50 types.
Peak season is May through August, but this favorite fruit can be found year-round in the U.S., meaning you have plenty of time to explore the joy of cooking with it. Salsas, gazpacho, sorbet, and salads are just a few of the ways this versatile fruit can be used.
1 seedless watermelon
1 log goat cheese
Bacon, cooked and each slice cut into 4 pieces
Fresh basil leaves
Cut watermelon into round disks, about 1 inch thick. Using a small round cookie cutter (bearing in mind that this makes a mouthful even with small diameter circles), cut out little cylinders of watermelon, avoiding the seedy spots. Cut each cylinder into 3 or 4 thinner disks. Set the watermelon disks on paper towels briefly to drain excess juice.
Cut the log of goat cheese into disks of approximately the same thickness as the watermelon disks. Use the cookie cutter to trim the cheese to the same size as the watermelon, taking care not to let the goat cheese crumble too much. Place a disk of goat cheese on each disk of watermelon. Top each with a piece of bacon and a basil leaf. Just before serving, drizzle each bite with a drop of balsamic vinegar.
Recipe adapted from The Meaning of Pie by Kelly Dean Yandell.
1 seedless watermelon
Kalamata olives, chopped
Red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed
Ricotta salata or feta cheese
Fresh basil or mint, torn
Vinaigrette (see below)
Cut watermelon into 1-inch thick, round disks. Top slices with olives, onion, ricotta, basil, and other toppings of your choice, and drizzle with vinaigrette.
For vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons honey, 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar, 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste.
Recipe adapted from Tim Mazurek’s blog, Lottie + Doof.
5 cups watermelon, seeded and cut into ¾-inch cubes
1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into ¾-inch cubes
3 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Romaine lettuce leaves, optional
Combine watermelon and tomatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and salt and toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Stir in onion, vinegar, and oil. Cover and chill 2 hours. Serve chilled with lettuce.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living magazine.