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Archive for Monday, July 10, 2006

Ripe with sophistication

Watermelon recipes dress up summer staple

July 10, 2006

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When the first juicy red watermelon of the season arrives, you know it's really summertime. Kids love to eat it - and spit the seeds - and they'll get a dose of nutrition with every slice. Watermelons are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium.

It's pretty good plain on a sultry summer day, but if you want to fancy it up, here are some watermelon recipes for every occasion - from morning brunch to evening cocktails.

Smoked mozzarella watermelon pumps

1/4 cup honey Dijon mustard

8 small Hawaiian or soft pumpernickel rolls, split

8 (1/4-inch thick) slices smoked mozzarella cheese

8 slices seedless watermelon the same size as the cheese slices, drained to remove excess moisture

1 cup fresh alfalfa sprouts

Spread the mustard on each of the cut sizes of the rolls. Place a slice of cheese and watermelon on top of each roll bottom and divide the sprouts over the watermelon slices. Place the top of the roll over the sprouts. Makes 8 appetizer sandwiches.

Watermelon Mango Margarita

2 cups chopped seedless watermelon

One ripe mango

Juice from 2 fresh limes

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon triple sec

2 jiggers tequila

2 cups ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Serves 2 or 3.

Shrimp Watermelon Sate

1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon soy sauce or to taste

1 couple of dashes of hot pepper sauce or to taste

16 jumbo shrimp, cleaned, poached and chilled

16 (2-inch) cubes seedless watermelon

Fresh basil leaves or baby romaine leaves for garnish

Slowly blend the seasoned rice vinegar into the peanut butter until completely blended. Stir in the garlic, ginger and soy sauce until mixed well. Season with hot pepper sauce to taste. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing over the shrimp and toss to coat them well. Chill for 1 hour. To serve, alternate shrimp and watermelon cubes on 4 skewers and baste with the remaining dressing. Serve over fresh basil leaves or romaine leaves. Serves 4.

Sesame chicken and watermelon

2 tablespoons peanut

or vegetable oil

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons extra-dry vermouth

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 bunches scallions, trimmed and chopped

1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

4 cups minced and drained seedless watermelon

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Stir-fry the chicken chunks in the oil until they begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and add the soy sauce, vermouth, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry until the majority of the liquid in the wok is gone. Add the scallions and sesame seeds, and saute until the chicken is cooked and the sesame seeds are toasted. Arrange the minced watermelon over 4 to 6 plates and serve the chicken over the watermelon. Serves 4 to 6.

Sweet and Sour Watermelon Cucumber

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar or to taste

1 tablespoon poppy seed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped

3 cups seedless watermelon balls or small chunks

2 English cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced into small slices

Mix together the vinegar, water, sugar (adjusting as desired) and poppy seeds in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped scallions. Place the watermelon and cucumber in a serving bowl and pour the marinade over the top. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate a couple of hours before serving. Toss gently before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

Watermelon Hawaiian Salad

Serve this salad in split fresh coconut shells, and your guests will get the urge to dance the hula. Use the seeds from the papaya you've cut in the salad for the dressing - they have a wonderful peppery flavor.

1 cup macadamia nuts

2 bananas

1 small papaya

Juice from 4 fresh limes

3 cups seedless watermelon balls or small squares

2 cups fresh pineapple chunks

1 cup freshly grated or unsweetened coconut

3 cups low-fat vanilla flavored yogurt

1/3 cup papaya seeds

Place the macadamia nuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse them a couple of times just to chop them into large pieces. Then place them in a non-stick heavy saute pan and toast them over medium heat just until they turn golden, stirring constantly. Remove them to a heatproof dish or bowl and allow them to cool.

Peel and cut the bananas and papaya flesh into small chunks and toss them in the lime juice. Place the banana and the papaya chunks in a large glass bowl with the watermelon, pineapple and coconut. In another bowl mix together the yogurt and the papaya seeds. Pour over the fruit and coconut. Toss to combine. Place in a serving bowl or coconut shells. Sprinkle the toasted macadamia nuts over the top and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 12.

Watermelon Mocktail

1 cup watermelon puree

1 teaspoon grenadine syrup

Juice from one fresh orange

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 cups ice cubes

Place all of the ingredients in a martini shaker and shake for 20 seconds. Strain the chilled liquid into a sugar rimmed martini glass. Makes 1 or 2 mocktails.

Watermelon Kiwi Smoothie

2 cups seedless watermelon chunks

2 kiwis, peeled and chopped

2 cups vanilla yogurt

1 cup ice

Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Makes about 4 cups.

Smoked Mozzarella Watermelon Pumps

1/4 cup honey Dijon mustard

8 small Hawaiian or soft pumpernickel rolls, split

8 (1/4-inch thick) slices smoked mozzarella cheese*

8 slices seedless watermelon the same size as the cheese slices, drained to remove excess moisture

1 cup fresh alfalfa sprouts

Spread the mustard on each of the cut sizes of the rolls. Place a slice of cheese and watermelon on top of each roll bottom and divide the sprouts over the watermelon slices. Place the top of the roll over the sprouts. Makes 8 appetizer sandwiches.

Note: Smoked fresh mozzarella cheese can be found with specialty or gourmet cheeses at most supermarkets. It comes in ovals about 3 inches in diameter, which is the perfect size for this recipe.

Roasted Pepper Watermelon Salsa

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 Anaheim peppers, split, seeded and chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable, olive or canola oil

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder or to taste

Juice from 2 fresh limes

2 cups minced seedless watermelon

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, garlic and peppers in the vegetable oil in a heavy saute pan over medium high heat until they begin to toast and the peppers' skin blisters. Reduce heat and stir in the tomato sauce, cumin and chili powder. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Cool until just warm and place in a blender with the lime juice. Pulse and then blend briefly just to chop the contents finely. Pour the contents of the blender into a heatproof bowl and chill. When ready to serve, stir in the watermelon and any watermelon juice into the tomato pepper mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 to 5 cups. Serve with chips or over just about anything off the grill.

Watermelon Syrup

Serve this delicious topping over vanilla ice cream or angel food cake. Mix into sparkling water for a watermelon soda. It's terrific for watermelon martinis or other cocktails.

4 cups pureed seedless watermelon

1 cup granulated sugar

Place the pureed watermelon and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir while bringing to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Stirring occasionally, simmer until the mixture has reduced by one half in volume and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat to cool and then place in a glass bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps 5 days in the refrigerator. Makes 2 cups.

Watermelon Tarts

3 cups prepared vanilla pudding

6 (5-inch pre-baked) tart shells

3 cups chopped seedless watermelon

2 cups sweetened whipped cream or whipped topping

1 cup toasted almond slices

Divide the pudding among the tart shells and divide the watermelon on top of the pudding. Garnish with whipping cream and toasted almond slices and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Watermelon Pie a la Mode

6 (1/2-inch thick) pie wedge-shaped slices of pound cake

6 (3-inch thick) wedges of seedless watermelon the same size of the cake slices, drained to remove excess moisture

6 vanilla-flavored frozen yogurt scoops

About 1 cup strawberry syrup

Place the cake slices on 6 dessert plates. Top each cake slice with a watermelon slice. Place a scoop of the frozen yogurt on top of each "pie" slice and drizzle the syrup over the top. Serves 6.

- Recipes courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board

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