As those of us down South sweat through our region’s seasonal swelter, nothing is sweeter or more refreshing than a mouthful of chilled watermelon. Sticky juices running down upturned chins and slippery seeds propelled through puckered lips are quintessential summer sights. So why not slice into a watermelon and let it be the red in your “ red, white and blue” 4th of July menu?
On visits to my grandfather's farm, we'd squeal when he'd walk his garden and return, sticking his head in the house to tell us "watermelon outside." We were excited by the forthcoming treat, but equally on edge to see what color this watermelon would be. About 1 in 10 was as brilliantly orange as a late-afternoon sun inside instead of the traditional red. I don't remember them tasting any different, but because they were "rare," we treasured them more.
And watermelons don't just look and taste good. They’re good for you. A 10-ounce slice of watermelon has 13 milligrams of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant also found another of summer’s favorite fruits, tomatoes. The same portion has about 23 milligrams of vitamin C and 1,627 IUs of vitamin A. Plus, its sweet flavor can satisfy a sugar craving without the crazy calorie count. (A typical serving has about 86 calories.)
So grab some newspapers, a big, sharp knife (a salt shaker if you must) and head out to the patio to cut open one of this season’s sweetest gifts. Whether its in big chunks, picture-perfect wedges or cute little balls, watermelon is great on its own. But consider combining it with other ingredients to amp up its flavor. Try two of my fave, extremely easy watermelon recipes.
Watermelon & Feta Salad
No measurements or ingredients here. You can add as much or as little of each element as you like!
lettuce of your choice (I like tender butter lettuce for this.)
thinly sliced red onion or shallot
pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted
your favorite vineagrette (choose a lighter one so you don’t overpower the watermelon)
3 cups watermelon cubes, seeded and frozen
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh mint
juice of one lime
1 small banana (or 1/2 to 2/3 of a large banana)
Blend all in a blender, until smooth and frothy and serve immediately. Feel free to add a little vodka to give it a kick!
This article originally appeared in Lean magazine's 2014 summer issue.