Sticky red-tinged juices running down upturned chins and slippery seeds propelled through puckered lips are quintessential “it’s summer” sights down South. When we’d visit my grandfather’s farm in the summer, he’d walk to his garden in the afternoon and often return carrying a ripe melon under one arm. He grew the Sugar Baby variety, and they were round like a soccer ball (and about the same size) and sported almost-solid forest green rinds.
He’d stick his head in the house to tell us, “Watermelon outside,” and we’d squeal. We were excited by the forthcoming treat but equally on edge to see what color the watermelon’s insides would be. About one in ten was as brilliantly orange as a late-afternoon sun instead of the traditional soft 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 ten-ounce slice of watermelon has thirteen milligrams of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant also found in another of summer’s favorite fruits, tomatoes. The same portion has about twenty-three 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 eighty-six calories.)
So grab some newspapers, a big, sharp knife (a salt shaker if you must) and head out to the patio to slice into one of this season’s sweetest gifts. Whether it’s in big chunks, picture-perfect wedges, or cute little balls, watermelon is great enjoyed on its own. But consider combining it with other ingredients to amp up its flavor.
WATERMELON & FETA SALAD
No measurements or ingredients here. You can add as much or as little of each element as you like!
thinly sliced shallots
salt to taste
your favorite vinaigrette (choose a lighter one so you don’t overpower the watermelon)
3 cups watermelon cubes, seeded and frozen
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh mint
juice of one lime
1 small banana (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.
SEE MORE MELON MANIA PHOTOS HERE