I remember all to well during the hot humid summers back east where you felt like you could actually melt. Around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon you needed a refreshing pick me up because the heat was so oppressive and you felt totally lethargic. My dad use to keep a cooler filled with ice on the back porch and my mom would cut up juicy slices of watermelon that we could enjoy any time of the day. My sister, brother and friends would reach into the cooler to take slices of watermelon and go sit under a shady tree. We would get all sticky from the juice running down our arms and onto our legs as we bit into this cold refreshing fruit! Of course there would be watermelon seed spitting contest to see how far we could spit them. I would never participate because I actually LIKED to chew on the seeds until my sister told me I would grow a watermelon in my stomach if I kept that up. (Who hasn’t heard that one?)
I would see some grown ups sprinkling salt on their melons and I was so upset by that. (Not sure why) It wasn’t until recently that I discovered how a bit of saltiness on watermelon actually enhances the flavor.
On a trip to Greece sitting in a Seaside Café I ordered watermelon and it came with Greek Feta cheese scattered over the top. The combination of the cool melon and the saltiness of the cheese was surprisingly mouth watering delicious. It has now become my very favorite salad during the summer months and I make one almost everyday.
I still don’t sprinkle salt on my melon, I try to limit my sodium. I do make my version of the watermelon served Greek style and whenever I serve it to my family and friends they absolutely love it! I’ve added a few extra touches that I think you will enjoy! With the excess melon you will have left over from this recipe you can make a cool refreshing drink. Put 2 to 3 cups of cut up melon in a blender, add 1 cup Perrier water or fresh orange juice and blend. Add one lime sliced thin, 2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves pulled off and ice!
This definitely is a fruit I eat plenty of during the summer months. Watermelons are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium, which make it a perfect snack. They’re also a great source of Potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Here is a great recipe for a cool and refreshing watermelon salad but first,
Note; make sure to slice the melon on a super clean cutting board. Melons will pick up the flavor of anything that you may have chopped before, especially garlic. And definitely DO NOT place cut melon on a board where you cut chicken or beef because of the threat of salmonella. I keep separate cutting boards for veggies, meats, chicken, fish, fruits and bread. You can purchase laminated boards at a reasonable price. They come in sets and in different colors so you can be sure to use the same boards to cut and slice. For instant I use red for meat, yellow for chicken, green for veggies, white for fruit, blue for bread! Bed Bath & Beyond, William Sonoma, Sur La Table, Surfas Culinary District carry them. I highly recommend them to keep foods safe.
TO MAKE THE SALAD
1- 5 to 6 pound Seedless watermelon
6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Greek Feta Cheese cut into 12 pieces each ½” inch thick and 1¼ “ wide
1 small red onion sliced thin
1-cup fresh mint leaves
1-cup Micro greens (optional)
One 16.9 fluid-ounce bottle balsamic vinegar
REFRESHING MELON DRINK
4 cups left over melon
1 lime sliced into thin rounds
¼ cup mint leaves
4 ounces Vodka (OPTIONAL)
Make the balsamic syrup first
Pour the whole bottle into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium-high and continue to boil until the vinegar starts to thicken and forms a syrup like consistency, about 14 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to thicken too much or it will end up a thick black goop. The best way to check is to use a wooden spoon, if the syrup coats the back of the spoon it’s ready to remove from the heat. Let it cool to room temperature before you store in the refrigerator. I use a needle nose plastic bottle to store my syrup after it has cooled. It will last up to 2 month in the refrigerator.
Slice the watermelon into 2” inch round slices. Take your best four round slices and cut each from the middle a 3×3” inch rectangle. Wrap all 4 pieces in plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (SAVE THE EXCESS PIECES OF MELON and set-aside in the refrigerator we are going to make the refreshing drink from that.)
TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD
Place one 3×3 piece of watermelon on each serving plate and slice them into 1” inch pieces. You should have 9 squares per serving.
Add three pieces of the Feta Cheese down the middle of each serving.
Add 4 to 5 slices of the red onion over each serving
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over each serving
Add 5 to 6 fresh mint leaves over top of each serving
Scatter Micro greens over top
Drizzle Balsamic Syrup over
Makes 4 servings
You can make a refreshing summer drink by using the excess melons. Place 3 to 4 (depending how much you have left) cups of watermelon in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a pitcher, add the sliced lime and ¼ cup fresh mint leaves and stir. Add ice and serve cold.
If you want to make this a cocktail the ratio of Vodka to Melon juice is 1 Ounce Vodka to 1 cup (8oz.) of juice
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