Get up to seed with refreshing watermelon

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It’s August, which means juicy, sweet watermelons are ripe on the vines. We are watermelon addicts in my house and go through one every two days. While enjoying a big slice is the most common way to eat it,
I love to cook with the fruit, too. I have several delicious recipes to share, including watermelon salsa, salad and lemonade — even a watermelon rind crumble. So, grab a melon and start experimenting. Enjoy!

Recipes and Photos by Juliana Goodwin

Watermelon Salsa

Makes 3-4 servings.

I like to use poblano peppers in this salsa recipe instead of jalapeños. Poblanos are not nearly as spicy, which makes this recipe more family-friendly. The poblano also lends a hint of smokiness to the sweet melon.

1 large poblano pepper

Watermelon Salsa

Canola oil
3 cups watermelon, seeded and diced
1/3 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seed
Salt to taste

Heat grill or oven to 400. Brush outside of poblano pepper with canola oil and grill or bake for 8-10 minutes. When the pepper cools, peel off charred skin. Cut off the top, discard seeds and dice pepper. Add to a medium bowl.

Stir in remaining ingredients until combined. Serve with tortilla chips.

Makes 4 servings.

Watermelon Slab Salad with Orange Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup sugar, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
4 large slices of watermelon
1/2 cup pistachios or pecans
1/2 cup blueberries
4 teaspoons red onion, chopped
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
12 basil leaves, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Place balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes, until mixture thickens slightly. Taste, and if it’s not sweet enough, add more sugar (you want to reduce the vinegar and sweeten it up). Remove from heat, stir in orange extract and set aside.

Place watermelon slices on a platter or separate plates. Sprinkle each slice with nuts, blueberries, onion, goat cheese and basil. Drizzle slices with balsamic mixture. Add salt and pepper. Serve.

Watermelon Lemonade

Makes 4 servings.

Watermelon Lemonade

5 cups watermelon, chilled, seeded and cubed
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender, working in two batches. Puree until smooth. Taste and adjust sugar if needed. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Stir mixture thoroughly or give it another whirl through the blender before serving.

Watermelon Rind Blueberry Crumble

This crumble is a good way to use leftover rind. Cooking with watermelon rind takes a bit of extra time, but I love using something that would normally go to waste.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Watermelon Rind Blueberry Crumble

4 cups watermelon rind
Pot of boiling water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pint blueberries
2 teaspoons tapioca
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 premade pie crust

For crumble mixture:

1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon melted butter

To prepare the watermelon rind, peel off the green skin with a knife and keep the white rind. You don’t want a lot of the red flesh, but a little won’t hurt. Dice the rind into small cubes, about 1/4 inch.

Drop watermelon rind in boiling water and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Using a strainer, drain rind and let it cool.

Once it is completely cool, pat rind with paper towels to soak up extra moisture. Then toss it with 1/2 cup brown sugar, sugar, apple cider vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and ginger. Add blueberries, tapioca and pecans and stir. Allow mixture to rest for 10 minutes.

Heat oven to 375.

Roll out pie crust and place it in a deep-dish pie pan. Spoon the fruit mixture into the pie crust, reserving 1-2 tablespoons excess juice.

To make crumble topping, stir together flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar, oats and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until crumbly. Add reserved juice, dropping by spoonful over the fruit mixture.

Bake for 32-38 minutes, until golden brown and the top looks set.

Cool for 2 hours and refrigerate until time to serve.

Note: This crumble is best served cold or even at room temperature — plain or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It is not as good when warm.

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