Fast, Fabulous, Fresh Foods
Class 2 by Pat Mugridge
Summertime, and the living is easy - at least as far as fruits and vegetables are concerned.
Nothing is more quintessentially summer than a cold melon on a hot day. So for this month's Fast, Fabulous, Fresh Foods class at the Hillcrest YMCA I felt melons were the natural choice. Since there are so many varieties of melon available, we'll have two recipes: one featuring honeydews and one featuring watermelons.
Melons can be up to 92% water by weight, so the calorie count is extremely low. A cup of watermelon has only 46 calories, while a cup of honeydew melon comes in at 64 calories. Besides natural sugars, watermelon offers Vitamin C, beta carotene, and is a mild diuretic.
Honeydews also offer Vitamin C, B complex vitamins, potassium, and copper. All in all, melon makes a fresh, healthy, and tasty summertime treat.
While we want to take advantage of the season sometimes a whole melon can seem a daunting, especially for a small family. There is only so much plain melon we can eat and the ubiquitous salad bar fruit salad can be a bit mundane. We can do better than that.
The first recipe is for a Thai influenced honeydew melon salad. It can have a hit of heat or be left sweet and mint-y as suits your taste. Either way it tastes great. Quick and easy to make, the additions of lime, herbs, and honey add a depth of flavor as well as bumping up the nutritional value.
Honeydew Salad with Mint and Cilantro
4 cups honeydew melon, cut in chunks
2 TBS fresh lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1 TBS honey (or to taste)
3 TBS chopped cilantro
½ c chopped mint leaves
1/8 tsp salt
Optional: red pepper flakes or finely diced hot peppers*
This is any easy salad. Mix the lime juice, lime zest, salt, and honey. Honeydews vary greatly in sweetness. Add more honey if needed.
Toss the honeydew pieces with cilantro and mint. Add the dressing and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Allow to sit at least 30 minutes to let flavors develop.
*Hot pepper flakes or fresh hot pepper add an interesting taste to the salad. Use as much heat as suits your palate. Jalapenos or Thai Bird Peppers would work well.
The next fruit salad is a savory watermelon salad. Using fruits in savory salads is more common than it may seem. We have all become accustomed to dried cranberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, and pears in salads. Asian dishes frequently feature stewed or sautéed melon. And both Asian and Southern American cooks pickle the watermelon rinds.
The salad we'll be making combines the tang of raspberries, the bite of red onion, and the saltiness of feta cheese with the sweetness of watermelon. Served on a bed of greens, this salad looks as good as it tastes.
Watermelon, Feta, & Red Onion Salad
1/3 c fresh raspberry puree (about 1 pint)
1/3 c raspberry vinegar
2 tsp honey (or to taste)
2 TBS olive oil (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 red onion
8 c watermelon in chunks
2 bunches of salad greens (romaine or leaf lettuce would work well)
¼ c chopped mint
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
To make the dressing:
In a blender or food processor puree the raspberries until smooth. If a seedless puree is desired, strain the berries through a sieve.
Finely chop the shallot.
Mix the raspberry vinegar, honey, shallot, salt and pepper. Stir in the puree. Whisk in the olive oil, if using.
To assemble the salad:
Slice the onion into thin slices. Put them in ice water to crisp and loose some bite for about 15 to 30 minutes. Remove and drain well.
Tear the greens into pieces. Toss the greens gently with the watermelon. Arrange on a large platter. Distribute the onion slices, chopped mint, and feta cheese over the top.
Drizzle liberally with the raspberry dressing.
Give these recipes a try; they'll really expand your summer repertoire. Either recipe can easily be scaled up or down to serve one or many.
And be sure to check back next month for July's Fast, Fabulous, Fresh Food recipe.
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