Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Watermelon!

Watermelon; what a melon! Sorry, that was so corny. I love watermelon in the summer because it's so refreshing and hydrating. Plus, it's good for you. It's got this amino acid, arginine, and rumor has it that it is supposed to help with weight loss. And it's got lycopene (even more than tomatoes) and beta-carotene which is awesome for your skin.

How to pick the best watermelon:
Pick out a watermelon that is "normal" looking - meaning symmetrical and without any major blemishes. Check to see if it has a yellow-ish side (which means that the watermelon was able to ripen in the field and just didn't get enough of a "tan" on that one side). Knock on it and listen for a dull, hollow, thumpy sound. Even if it's ugly on the outside, that thumpy sound lets you know that it's going to be yummy and awesome on the inside. Keep the watermelon in the fridge until you're ready to eat it (up to a week or so, no longer).

Cutting watermelon safely:
Slice off a piece of the melon to create a flat base so it doesn't roll around while you are trying to man-handle it. Cut into 2" slices to make manageable pieces. Cut into triangles for self-serve pieces or do like I do - cut out all the "meat" into bite-sized cubes and place in a huge bowl. Serve with forks and everyone can dig in.
Other serving suggestions:
  1. Freeze the pieces for a lovely frozen treat - you can use them as ice cubes in your lemonade - or take it a step further and blend the frozen pieces to make a quick sorbet.
  2. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt - trust me and just try it. There's a good chance you'll love it because it really is delicious. Try it with other melons too (honeydew, cantaloupe). The salt just enhances the flavor.
  3. Put some watermelon in your salad. Tastes awesome with farmers cheese or feta or gorgonzola. Pile it on top of some peppery arugula for a nice contrast or with mild spinach for something less bitter.
  4. Toss the chunks in a blender along with some rum or tequila for a grown up smoothie; garnish with a lime wedge and mint leaves if you're feeling fancy.
  5. Soak the watermelon with your favorite liquor or white wine for an intoxicating snack.
  6. Send some watermelon through a juicer (or blend and strain) and then mix with a little sparkling water for a fresh watermelon agua fresca
  7. Chop it up with some cilantro, onions, tomato, and jalapeno for a fresh and spicy salsa.
  8. Wrap up watermelon chunks with pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto - perfect easy appetizer on a hot summer night where you refuse to fire up the stove.
  9. Blend watermelon chunks with cucumbers and your favorite fresh herbs (cilantro or basil would be great) and make a lovely watermelon gazpacho.
  10. Put a spin on the traditional caprese salad and use watermelon in lieu of the tomato and mint instead of basil - keep the fresh mozzarella - serve on skewers/toothpicks or tossed together in a big bowl.

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