Open-face watermelon sandwiches are complemented by the taste of goat cheese and fresh mint.
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Open-face watermelon sandwiches are complemented by the taste of goat cheese and fresh mint.

Summer favorites relieve season’s heat

Family Features

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Now that summer is at its hottest, fresh, juicy melons make a tasty addition to meals or can be enjoyed as a refreshing small snack.

Watermelons and cantaloupes bring a sweet taste that can be enjoyed in all kinds of dishes. They also can be added to salads, used in an iced drink or enjoyed fresh off the grill. Also important, melons are a great source of vitamins A and C.

“Watermelons are one of the most refreshing fruits available,” said Justin Timineri, executive chef for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “Serve a slice of this delicious fruit for guaranteed smiles at any age. Since cantaloupes are both sweet and savory, try thinking outside the box while enjoying them.”

One other thing to remember: Every part of the watermelon is ready to eat, including the rind and seeds. The fiber-rich rind of watermelon can be pickled, candied or turned into jam or jelly? The seeds are highly nutritious, packed with protein, vitamin E and potassium. Try them roasted in the oven on low and salted for a healthy, tasty snack.

When buying and serving watermelons and cantaloupes, follow these suggestions for best results:

  • The exterior of a ripe watermelon should be smooth and waxy green, with or without stripes. Watermelons will not ripen after picked; pick a ripe one at the market.
  • A good cantaloupe is symmetrical with the blossom end soft enough to be depressed with slight pressure. Avoid overripe melons with lumps or soft spots.
  • Before cutting it, wipe down a watermelon with a clean cloth and slightly soapy water.

For more melon recipes, go to bit.ly/flmelons.

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MAIN DISH

Open-Face Watermelon Sandwiches

8 ounces goat cheese

1 handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1/2 loaf of your favorite bread, sliced thin

Olive oil

1/4 medium-sized watermelon, seeds and rind removed

Crumble chilled goat cheese into small bowl. Lightly mix cheese and chopped mint. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.

Cut bread into 8 small slices and drizzle with olive oil. Toast bread slices until golden brown and crispy on top. Let bread cool slightly.

Spread cheese mixture on top of each bread slice. Cut watermelon slices into fun shapes and layer watermelon on top of cheese. Lightly season the top of sandwiches with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Yields 4 servings

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SIDE DISH

Grilled And Chilled Watermelon With Feta And Mint

1 small watermelon, about 6 pounds

1/2 cup small fresh mint leaves, hand-torn

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Slice watermelon into 1-inch slices. (See cook’ note.) Heat grill or grill pan over high heat until very hot. Two at a time, grill watermelon rounds about 2 to 3 minutes each side until charred. Transfer watermelon to cutting board and cut into wedges, discarding rind. Place watermelon wedges in refrigerator until chilled.

Arrange wedges on plate. Sprinkle with mint and feta. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook’s note: To cut watermelon into rounds, lay melon on side and cut through rind and flesh with sharp knife.

Yields 6 servings.

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SIDE DISH

Melon Muffins

1 watermelon

8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened

3 ounces low-fat lime yogurt

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon lime zest

Slice watermelon into 1-inch-thick cross sections. Using 1.5-inch-wide biscuit cutter, cut watermelon sections into circles.

In medium-sized bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt and lime juice; mix well.

Arrange melon circles on plate and top each with teaspoon of yogurt sauce and pinch of lime zest. Serve immediately.

Yields 20 servings.

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DESSERT

Fruit Kebobs With Lime Cream

For the lime cream

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1/2 cup honey

1 lime, juiced

1 teaspoon lime zest

For the kebobs

1/2 honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and cubed

1/2 cantaloupe melon, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 papaya, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 mango, peeled, seeded and cubed

2 kiwis, peeled and cubed

16 (6-inch) bamboo skewers

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped, for garnish

To make lime cream, combine sour cream, honey, lime juice and zest in mixing bowl.

For kebobs, arrange cut fruit on skewers in alternating fashion. Repeat until all cut fruit is on skewers. Serve chilled with lime cream. Garnish with fresh mint.

Yields 16 servings.