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Market Fresh: Versatile watermelon: smoothies, salads and refreshing drinks

 

Anne Freeze

 

Yahoo! Summer is still here. The Hitching Lot Farmers' Market is still thriving and bursting with color, conversation and culinary promise.  

 

Last night Terry found a watermelon in the outside refrigerator that I had forgotten about. It was a little soft, but we cut it open and used some for our breakfast smoothie (we make them the night before, pour in glasses and they are ready and cold the next morning) along with blueberries, a banana and plain yogurt.  

 

So, I've still got half left. What to do? I flashed back to dinner several years ago in Athens with stepdaughters Faithe and Laura Ellen. We were having a fun girls' weekend while I showed off my hometown. Dinner at the restaurant 5&10 was a highlight for several reasons. The food was fabulous; we were laughing a lot; and, Faithe ordered a salad with cheese! She who insists she doesn't like cheese ate, and loved, not only cheese, but feta cheese, and it was paired with watermelon!  

 

This was a signature salad of Hugh Acheson's, chef and owner of 5&10 and can now be seen on many menus in the summertime. What I love about Hugh's recipe is the architecture of the salad, square slices of watermelon layered like a Napoleon, with slices of feta. I have not seen blocks of feta locally, but recently bought one at a Sam's club. Keep in mind that any cheese is fresher bought as a chunk rather than pre-crumbled or shredded. These are usually not only older but often tossed with potato starch to keep them from clumping.  

 

So, with watermelon in mind, here are three summer recipes. The third is a bonus. It's a cool, refreshing summer drink.  

 

 

 

TOMATO AND WATERMELON SALAD 

 

Makes 4 servings 

 

 

 

1 pound watermelon, rind removed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks 

 

4 heirloom tomatoes, quartered 

 

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved 

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

 

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar 

 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

 

Pinch freshly ground pepper 

 

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves 

 

4 ounces soft goat cheese 

 

1/3 cup chopped roasted unsalted cashews 

 

 

 

  • Divide watermelon pieces and tomatoes among salad plates. Top with the basil, goat cheese and cashews. Drizzle each plate with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

     

    (Source: "True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure," by Andrew Weill, M.D.) 

     

     

     

    WATERMELON SALAD WITH FETA, ARUGULA AND SERRANO CHILE VINAIGRETTE 

     

    Makes 4 servings 

     

     

     

    6 tablespoons serrano chile vinaigrette (recipe below) 

     

    1 medium seedless watermelon, skin and rind removed, cut into 3/4 inch-by-3-by-3 inch squares (16 squares) 

     

    1 serrano chile, thinly sliced 

     

    1/4 pound baby arugula leaves 

     

    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

     

    1/2 pound feta, cut into 16 slices, 1/4-inch thick 

     

     

     

  • Shake the vinaigrette vigorously. Place the watermelon squares, serrano slices and arugula in a large bowl, and dress with half of the vinaigrette. Season lightly with salt. 

     

  • Place four plates on a counter. Add a small amount of dressed arugula on each plate, then one slice of watermelon, then one slice of feta. Repeat until each plate has four slices of watermelon and four slices of feta.  

     

  • Garnish with the dressed serrano slices and then drizzle a touch of the vinaigrette around each plate. Serve immediately. 

     

    (Source: "A New Turn in the South," by Hugh Acheson) 

     

     

     

    SERRANO CHILE VINAIGRETTE 

     

    Makes 1 cup 

     

     

     

    1/2 cup olive oil 

     

    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice 

     

    1 tablespoon champagne vinegar 

     

    1 shallot, minced 

     

    1 serrano chile, thinly sliced 

     

    1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 

     

    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

     

     

     

  • Combine the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, shallot, chile, thyme and salt in a Mason jar; tighten the lid and shake vigorously. Will last 10 days in the fridge. 

     

     

     

    WATERMELON LIMEADE 

     

    Makes 6 servings 

     

     

     

    1/2 cup fine turbinado sugar 

     

    4 cups cubed watermelon flesh 

     

    1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 

     

    1 cup soda water 

     

    6 slices of lime, for garnish 

     

     

     

  • Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. 

     

  • Place the watermelon in a blender and puree into watermelon water. Pour it into a pitcher and add the lime juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the simple syrup, saving the rest for another use. 

     

  • To serve, fill 6 pint glasses with ice and pour the watermelon limeade into each, up to an inch from the top. Top each glass with soda water and garnish with lime slice. 

     

    (Source: "A New Turn in the South," by Hugh Acheson)

     

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