Chill out with delicious, nutritious watermelon

Hot, hot, hot.

That’s the thought on everyone’s mind amid news of this week’s 100-degree days.

Such extreme heat, of course, challenges many a cook. There are those who resort to a parade of summer salads or sandwiches, those who take all cooking outside to charcoal and gas grills and those who swear off the kitchen entirely in favor of eating out anywhere that’s air-conditioned.

I’m not so averse to heating up the kitchen, likely because there’s little lasting effect in our high-ceilinged house, which offers other areas to chill out. I’m more concerned with preparing what little is fresh in the garden. This week it happens to be a bumper crop of cauliflower.

After weeks and weeks of waiting for temperatures to turn warm enough to spur on the cheddar variety, they exploded this past week from the size of baseballs to bowling balls. They’re terrific raw, but I happen to love cauliflower with Indian spices, so tonight’s dinner is an Indian-style simmer with onions and potatoes on steamed rice. Not exactly light, summery fare, but as they say in India, hot spicy food makes you sweat and ultimately cools you off.

But I’m not overlooking the possibility of chilled watermelon to cool the palate after dinner. Of all the fruit available in grocery stores this past week, watermelon was hands-down the most attractive. I bought two and have kept them in the fridge for an opportune moment.

As covered in a previous post on underrated foods, watermelon packs a lot of nutrition for its water content. It’s full of vitamins A, C and B6, plus potassium. Watermelon needs little in the way of adornment, but if you’re stocking up against the coming heat, here’s a few more ways to serve it, courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Watermelon Pico de Gallo

2 medium tomatoes, diced

16 ounces watermelon, diced (try to make watermelon pieces slightly larger than tomato)

1 tablespoon red onion, diced

1 jalapeno, chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1⁄2 lime

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

Put everything in a medium bowl, gently toss, and refrigerate for an hour. Adjust seasoning.

Makes about 6 servings.

 

Watermelon-Feta Salad

2 pounds watermelon, cut in 1-inch cubes

Handful of mint, roughly chopped

10 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Small red onion (about 2 tablespoons), diced

Juice of 6 1⁄2 limes

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

7 ounces feta

Additional mint, for serving

Pepper, to taste

Put everything except the feta in a large bowl and toss gently so the watermelon pieces stay whole. Refrigerate for an hour. Before serving, add the feta, a bit more mint and cracked pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

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