Chef Donna: Wonderful watermelons!
This time of year watermelons are plentiful and about as sweet as can be. They pair wonderfully with our other garden vegetables, and their juices can be used to put a clever twist on some meal time classics. Try these recipes for a summer-luscious watermelon salad with a sweet and spicy watermelon vinaigrette, and give the watermelon mojito a try, too, for that end of summer refreshing cocktail.
Recipe: Watermelon and Tomato Salad with a Watermelon Vinaigrette
This is a delicious and exciting flavor combination that turns summer staples, like watermelon and tomatoes, into a super-delicious salad. Make it now and through Labor Day to get the most out of these ripe fruits. For fun, experiment with other add-ins, like black olives, feta or goat cheese, or sweet and hot peppers.
For the Watermelon Dressing
1 ½ cups seeded and chopped watermelon
1 ½ tablespoons wildflower or lavender honey
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sweet Chili Sauce*
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper, to season
For the Salad
1 cup chopped ripe, but firm, red tomatoes
2 cups seeded and chopped watermelon
½ cup small dice chopped celery, plus additional for garnish
1 cup fresh celery leaves, rinsed and spun dry
*Sweet Chili Sauce is available in the ethnic section of most well stocked grocery stores.
Make the dressing. Puree the watermelon in a blender or a food processor and puree; pour the watermelon juice into a small saucepan. Simmer the juice over medium heat until reduced to about 1/2 to 1/3 cup. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey, lemon juice and Sweet Chili Sauce. Whisk in the olive oil (it will emulsify much better if the mixture is warm!) until a thick dressing . Add salt and pepper to season. Set aside.
Make the salad. Combine the tomatoes, watermelon and diced celery in a mixing bowl. Add about one-third to one-half of the dressing and toss.
Finish the dish and serve. Place the salad around a chilled salad plate, adding some celery leaves to garnish. Drizzle with some of the remaining watermelon dressing. Serve immediately.
Chef’s Note: you can make this salad ahead, but do not mix the dressing in until just before service. Once you mix in the dressing the watermelon will begin to give up a lot of its liquid and the salad will become too watery.
Recipe: Watermelon Jalapeno Mojito
Makes about 2 8-ounce drinks
8-12 fresh mint leaves
1/2 fresh jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, then coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lime (cut into wedges and squeeze to taste)
4 cups chopped watermelon
2 ounces Pyrat (spicy) rum
1 ounce simple syrup (made by boiling 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water, then cooling)
To rim your glass
1 piece citrus fruit (lemon, lime or orange
Fill a blender jar with some crushed ice. Layer in the mint leaves, jalapeno, and watermelon. Pulse once or twice to “muddle” the mixture. Do not over-process. Let the mixture sit and the flavors meld while you rim your glass.
Rim your glass. Cut a piece of citrus fruit (lime, lemon or orange) to look like a “pac-man” (e.g., cut one-quarter of the fruit out). Place the fruit into a small juice glass to hold the citrus in place; make sure the cute is above the lip of the glass. Place your glass into the center of the cut and spin it around to coat the outside and the top of the rim with juice (the inside doesn’t get coated!). Dip glass into a spicy sugar coating (we used Habanero Sugar from The Spice & Tea Exchange, but Lime Sugar, Raspberry Sugar, or Green Chili Sugar works great, too).
To the mixture in your blend, add your rum and the juice from a couple of lime wedges, then add the simple syrup and taste. Give it one good stir, then divide your mixture between 2 rimmed and ice filled glasses (you can strain the juice if you want, but most mojitos have all those good ingredients muddling around in the glass). Top off with a splash of sparkling water or club soda; garnish with a wedge of watermelon and mint.
For more information, visit Chef Donna’s website.