The Fresh Sheet…Watermelon

What better way to enjoy the last official weekend of summer than with fresh watermelon? On hot summer days, my siblings and I would sit on the front steps of our house and enjoy big wedges of watermelon. Its juicy sweet flesh was so refreshing and cooling in the heat, it seemed you could never get enough. As a kid, there was nothing like munching on a watermelon slice so large it took two hands to hold and was bigger than your head! In those days, watermelons were full of black seeds and so we would have spitting contests to see who could spit the watermelon seeds the farthest. You were really good if you could hit the sidewalk from our front steps. You may not realize this, but we actually grow watermelons in BC and they are available right now…so pick one up at the market and get munching!

With its high water content (95%), it’s no wonder we call it a watermelon. It’s juicy, sweet and hydrating. It’s crisp and crunchy flesh packs a healthy nutrition punch with vitamin C, beta-carotene and the health-protecting antioxidant lycopene.

Picking a tasty watermelon: Look for symmetrical melons that are heavy for their size and free of soft spots. If you’re buying a large watermelon, look for a yellowy-cream coloured “ground spot”. This lets you know that the watermelon ripened on the ground before it was picked.

Just like other fruits, watermelon can be frozen to enjoy throughout the winter. To freeze, cut watermelon into cubes and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid and transfer to a freezer container. Frozen watermelon is delicious blended into smoothies.

Did you know? Watermelon is actually a vegetable. It is most closely related to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. You can eat every part of the watermelon, even the rind and seeds.

Watermelon Feta & Mint Salad
This is one of my favourite savoury fruit salads. Although there are lots of versions of this salad, this recipe was created for a competition in culinary school. It was one of those cooking competitions where you had to create a three course meal from whatever was in the fridges and whoever could get their hands on the ingredients the fastest. We invented this super simple salad and got rave reviews. Hopefully you love it too. 

2 cups fresh watermelon, cubed
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice

Gently toss all ingredients together. If desired, season with freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy this salad as an appetizer or starter salad, a refreshing snack or even for breakfast with whole grain toast.
Makes 4 servings. This salad can easily be doubled or tripled to feed your crowd.

For an impressive look, serve this salad in the watermelon rind.

Enjoy!

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