Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What to do with all that watermelon...

Before I get into the watermelon recipes, I'd like to share some information on how to tell if a watermelon is ripe enough to purchase.

First and foremost, if you can get your watermelon, or any fruits and veggies, at your local farmer’s market, then please do so. Farmers know exactly when to pick their produce and take pride in selling you the best product possible. Local produce is always fresh, hasn’t been sitting in a truck and then the market for days, and isn’t covered with wax and who knows what else. So please let the Farmer’s Markets be your first choice, support your local farmers!!

The best way to see if a watermelon is ripe is to give it a thump. If it makes a hollow, deep thud, it is ripe. Next, pick up your deep-thudding melon and compare its weight with a few other watermelons that are the same size. The heavier the melon, the juicer and more ripe it is. Another way to see if a watermelon is ripe is to look for the patch on the melon where it was resting on the ground. This patch should be yellow or yellow-ish white. If it is bright white, it is not yet ripe. There was another interesting method I read about but haven’t tried yet. Take a long piece of straw or dried grass and place it across the width of the melon. If it is ripe, it should spin to lay lengthwise! Sometimes it will keep spinning!

My first watermelon recipe is a spin-off from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. She is a great chef and has simple yet wonderful recipes!

Refreshingly Unique Watermelon

¼ cup fresh basil
¼ cup fresh lime (or lemon) juice

¼ cup simple syrup (recipe to follow)
Watermelon balls from ½ of a melon

Put the first 3 ingredients in a blender and blend. Toss over watermelon balls and serve.

Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Once the sugar has dissolved, you have simple syrup. Reserve any extra syrup and use it for iced coffee or iced tea. Using simple syrup in your cold drinks helps immediately blend the sugar into the drink. No more sugar chunks at the bottom of your glass!

Wondering what to do with the rest of the watermelon? Here are a few suggestions:

Watermelon sorbet

Take the remaining watermelon balls (drained) from the recipe above (or plain ‘ole watermelon) and fill a blender. Add ¼ cup simple syrup and ¼ cup lime juice, blend. Pour into a popsicle mold and freeze. If you don't have a popsicle mold, you can freeze this in a Tupperware container. It will be a little hard to scoop out so just let it sit for a bit.

Watermelon Limeade

5 cups watermelon
1/2 cup blueberries
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup simple syrup

Blend ingredients together and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh basil.

Be free and creative with your recipe. If you don’t have any blueberries, try using raspberries or strawberries. Maybe you could use half watermelon and half cantaloupe!

Frozen Watermelon Margaritas

Take 5 cups of the watermelon balls from recipe above (or plain watermelon) and put in your blender.
Add 1/4 cup simple syrup and 1/4 cup lime juice, blend
OR you could use 5 cups of Watermelon Limeade
Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Fill blender halfway with frozen watermelon cubes.
Add ½ cup tequila and 1 tablespoon of triple-sec.
Blend and enjoy!!!

Remember, it's ok to play with your food!