Sweetin' up Fourth of July with watermelon dishes
Nothing says summer like eating a wedge of cold, juicy watermelon out of hand. But the sweet fruit also works as an ingredient in prepared dishes.
“Think of it as a substitute for a tomato,” said Leslie Coleman, spokeswoman for the Orlando, Fla.-based National Watermelon Promotion Board. “When you throw a tomato on the grill, you don’t leave it on for long. Do the same with watermelon. Flash-grill it, pepper it and put it on a burger instead of a tomato.”
Like tomatoes, watermelon works in sauces, salads, kebabs, soups and desserts.
“Use it as a tomato alternative in salads,” Coleman said. “Drain it well so it’s not soaking your salad. Cut it in chunks or triangles and mix it with greens.”
To make wedges, slice the fruit like a loaf of bread. Lay a round on its side. Halve it, then quarter it. For mini wedges, make additional cuts.
To make cubes, cut a checkerboard into the fruit. Take a quarter melon and lay it on the rind with the interior facing up. Place a knife about 3/4 of an inch down from the peak of the wedge. Holding the knife parallel to the far side of the fruit and starting at the edge of the rind, cut a horizontal line through the fruit all the way down to the rind.
Next, place the knife blade 3/4 of an inch lower and make the same cut. Repeat. Turn the fruit to the other side and make the same horizontal cuts. Starting at the edge of the rind, make vertical cuts ¾-inch apart all the way across. The cubes will tumble out.
“Watermelons pair nicely with things that tend to be hotter or spicier,” Coleman said. She suggests making salsa with it. Use an immersion blender to mix the ingredients, and serve it in a bowl made of the half-rind of a personal-size watermelon.
Personal-size watermelons, roughly the size of a large softball, started showing up in markets about 4 years ago. They are ideal for smaller families and for those who can’t afford to give up the refrigerator space a standard melon requires.
Customers can choose between seedless and seeded watermelons. To deseed:
n Cut melon in half, then in quarters.
n Cut through the flesh along the seed line with a paring knife. Lift off the piece you just cut out.
n Using a fork, scrape the seeds from the piece you just removed and from the remaining flesh on the rind.
Thanks to imports, watermelons are available year-round. Domestic melons - primarily from Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona - are available May through October, with the peak season May through August.
A watermelon is 92 percent water, making it good for hydration. It has no fat or cholesterol and is an excellent source of potassium and vitamins A and C. It’s also high in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce
the risk of cancer and other diseases.
“It’s not just sugar and water. It’s nutrient-dense,” Coleman said.
Recipes are from the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
Minced Grilled Chicken Salad Cups With Watermelon
8 sheets phyllo pastry
4 cups cut-up marinated grilled chicken breast, cooled
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup light mayonnaise or plain low-fat yogurt
½ teaspoon mild curry blend
1 tablespoon snipped dill
Dash seasoned salt
8 (3-inch) watermelon triangles about ½-inch thick
Arrange a phyllo sheet on a work surface and brush with butter. Fold in half and brush again; repeat brushing and folding until a rectangle is formed that can be pressed into a cupcake tin with the corners over the top edge of the cup.
Repeat to create 8 phyllo
rectangles and press them into the cups of a buttered 8-cup cupcake tin. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven until golden and brown.
Remove from oven and cool on rack.
Place chicken and celery in a mixing bowl; set aside.
In another bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, curry, dill and dash of seasoned salt.
Pour over the chicken and celery, and toss to coat. Divide the chicken salad among the cups and press a watermelon triangle into the center of each mound. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 360 calories, 28 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 820 mg sodium.
Shrimp and Watermelon Watercress Salad
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 (18-to-24 inch) sourdough baguette
2 or 3 ounces fresh stemmed watercress
4 cups seedless watermelon balls
12 potato chip-sized shavings of aged white cheddar cheese
16-20 chilled cocktail shrimp
½ cup balsamic vinaigrette of choice
Mix the butter, garlic and parmesan.
Cut the baguette in half. Slice the halves down the center to form 4 pieces of bread. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the cut side of each piece of bread. Place on the rack of a preheated 400-degree oven and bake just until browned. Wrap in foil and keep in a warm oven.
Sprinkle the watercress over 4 salad plates. Add the watermelon balls, cheese and shrimp. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve with the warm bread.
Per serving: 390 calories, 15 g protein, 47 g carbohydrate, 15 g fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 900 mg sodium
Watermelon Citrus Soup
1 box lemon-flavored gelatin mix
1 box lime-flavored gelatin mix
2 cups boiling water
6 cups seedless watermelon puree, chilled
¾ cup fresh mint leaves
Place the gelatin mixes in a heatproof bowl and pour in the boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Stir in the watermelon puree and divide among 6 to 8 serving bowls. Sprinkle the mint over the top of each bowl and serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8.
Per serving: 200 calories, 5 g protein, 50 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 135 mg sodium.
Grilled Scallops and Watermelon Kebabs
12 sea scallops
4 cups boiling vegetable or chicken broth
24 (1-by-1-inch) watermelon cubes
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
Cut scallops into halves across the diameter to create half-moon shapes. Place them in a heatproof casserole dish in a single layer. Pour the boiling clear broth over the scallops and let them poach for 5 minutes. Drain and cool the scallops.
On each skewer, alternate 1 half-moon scallop, then 2 watermelon cubes, then another half-moon scallop.
Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger and brush the kebabs as they are grilled over a medium-hot grill for about 90 seconds per side, turning once. Serve warm.
Serves 12 as an appetizer.
Per serving: 50 calories, 5 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 820 mg sodium.
Watermelon Oat Crumble
2 cups rolled or quick cook oats
½ cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
6 cups watermelon balls
Toss the oats, sugar, honey, cinnamon and pecans until mixed well. Spread into an even layer on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake in pre-heated 300-degree oven until golden brown. Turn off oven, leaving the tray in for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool. Crumble. Arrange melon balls in 6 to 8 small bowls or wide-stemmed glasses and top with the oat crumble.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Per serving: 330 calories, 6 g protein, 47 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 5 mg sodium.
Kathryn Rem can be reached at 788-1520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.