Watermelon Madness

Summer darlings of roadside stands and farmers’ markets, few foods are as refreshing on a hot Texas day as watermelon.

Icy, jewel-toned goodness -- a slice is perfect on its own. But let’s not stop there – this juicy fruit is also delicious as salad, sauce, soup or a cocktail. Let your imagination run wild, and to help out, here are some of my favorite ways to stretch your watermelon repertoire.

I love having jars of interesting chutney on my shelves because I can use it to throw together a quick snack or add an exquisite touch to turkey or ham sandwiches. Watermelon Rind Chutney is my adaptation of this condiment, and it is so tasty I know you’ll keep coming back for just another bite. Serve it on top of cream cheese for a spread on crackers or on warm biscuits. I think you will thank me for this recipe. Divine!

For Red, White and Blue Salad, watermelon cubes are paired with sweet grapes and blue cheese. We used Central Market’s incredible Mountain Gorgonzola. Walnuts are added, and it’s tossed with a hint of white balsamic vinegar and honey - this combination is addictive.

Similar to a salad but served as a soup is Watermelon Gazpacho, a refreshing treat.

Here’s one for the kids -- Watermelon Cream Pops. So cool and refreshing, the adults will love them as well.

For a refreshing and interesting drink, try our Watermelon Mimosas. Get the recipe HERE.

Whether you’re throwing a picnic in the park or a backyard barbecue, with these watermelon recipes, you’re in for a cooling treat.

Watermelon Rind Chutney
Yield: 4 – 5 pints
10 cups peeled chopped
watermelon rind
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup seedless raisins
1/2 finely chopped fresh ginger
3 cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
In a large cooking pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, three to four hours, stirring occasionally, until syrup is thick and dark golden brown.

Store up to four weeks, refrigerated. Chutney can also be preserved: Pour simmering mixture into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/8-inch headspace. Add lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath in a canner for 15 minutes. Take the canner off the heat and let water stop boiling before removing jars. Carefully remove jars and let sit. As they cool, the jars will seal themselves with a “pop.” Store jars in a cool place.

Red, White and Blue Summer Salad
Yield: 6 - 8 servings
8 cups seedless watermelon, cut into bite-size pieces
4 cups white seedless grapes, halved
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and white pepper to taste
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese, or to taste
In a large bowl, place watermelon, grapes and walnuts. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, then toss. Cover and refrigerate until chilled or up to one day.

Watermelon Gazpacho
Yield: 8 - 12 servings
1/2 medium watermelon, cut into seedless chunks (about 8 cups)
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 English cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
In a blender or food processor (you will need to work in batches), place watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion, orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Blend to desired consistency. Refrigerate until very cold.

Loaded Watermelon Wedges
Yield: about 20 wedges
1/2 half watermelon
8 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Honey to drizzle
Cut watermelon into wedges: First cut the melon into fourths, all cuts going from stem to stem. Then cut across the fourths to create wedges.

Soften goat cheese in microwave for 15 seconds. Spread onto each wedge and sprinkle tops with pecans. Drizzle each wedge with honey.

Watermelon Berry Frozen Pops
Yield: 4 – 6 pops
8 ounces yogurt (lemon, plain or vanilla flavor)
2 cups seedless watermelon cubes
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 banana
Place all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Pour into 4-ounce paper cups. Freeze, inserting popsicle stick when partially frozen.