Celebrate National Watermelon Month

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July is (was) National Watermelon Month and there’s nothing better than biting into a juicy piece of fresh watermelon on a hot, summer day. Not to mention that one wedge of watermelon or two cups contains 86 calories and not a single gram of fat! This fruit is full of healthy nutrients like potassium and vitamin A, making it an excellent choice for a healthy diet.

The mildly sweet flavor of watermelon is a great addition to recipes such as watermelon salad, watermelon drinks, and watermelon salsa. There are plenty of good reasons to jump into a nice juicy wedge of watermelon!!!

Blue Watermelon Salad
1 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cups inexpensive balsamic vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 sprig fresh rosemary
4 ounces fresh baby greens
2 oranges seedless, peeled and sectioned
4 cups seedless watermelon cubes
2 cups seedless grapes, halved
2 cups fresh, trimmed and sliced strawberries
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Heat the walnuts in a seasoned wok or heavy non-stick sauté pan over medium for a minute and stir in the sugar and soy sauce. Adjust heat to prevent burning while constantly stirring the nuts until the sugar melts. Continue to stir and cook until the nuts begin to stick and the mixture is getting sticky. Spread the nuts over a sheet of waxed or parchment paper and cool. Break apart into small pieces and crumble. Set aside.

Heat the vinegar in a heavy non-corrosive saucepan over medium heat and stir in sugar. Continue to stir and adjust heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the rosemary sprig to the pan. Continue to simmer until the contents of the pan reduces by 1/2 its original volume. Set aside.

Divide the greens among 6 or 8 salad plates and arrange the orange sections, watermelon, grapes and strawberries over the greens. Drizzle the balsamic syrup over the fruit and the cheese crumbles over that. Top with the candied walnut pieces and serve. Serves 6-8.

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Crispy Prosciutto
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
3 pounds watermelon (including rind)
6 radishes, quartered
4 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, torn
1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400° F. Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
Trim and discard the rind from the watermelon. Cut the flesh into 1/4-inch-thick triangles. Place the watermelon in serving dishes and sprinkle with the radishes, scallions, mint, and peanuts. Drizzle with the lime juice and oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Break the prosciutto into pieces and sprinkle over the salad before serving. Serves 4.
Watermelon Stir Fry
From the National Watermelon Board, how’s this for different?
2 cups watermelon rind, julienned (white part only, from about 1/2 of a seedless watermelon)
1 cup julienned carrots
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chives, cut into 3 inch pieces
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Crushed red pepper flakes for serving (optional)

Heat sesame oil in a wok over high heat. Add the watermelon rind and carrots and stir fry, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Let sit over high heat for 1 additional minute without stirring. Add the chives and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic and ginger. Pour the sauce over the watermelon rind and cook, stirring, 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.

Transfer to a serving dish. Add the basil, cilantro, and mint, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve as a side dish. Serves 4.

Firecracker Watermelon Guacamole
1 mini seedless watermelon
8 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, peeled, seeded and coarsely mashed
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 tomatoes ripe, seeded and diced
4 habanero chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (or less, to taste)
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Dash salt (to taste)

Roll the watermelon to find the flattest side; place that side on bottom. Slice the top third of the watermelon off. Wrap and set aside. Hollow out the red watermelon from the remaining watermelon section; reserve fruit for another use. A rice paddle works well for this task. Make sure all of the red part of the watermelon is removed. Pat dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with salt. Place upside down on a rimmed tray lined with paper towels and refrigerate overnight.

For the guacamole, gently combine all ingredients in a medium-serving bowl. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to blend.

With paper towels, rub inside of watermelon bowl to remove salt and thoroughly dry. Fill with Firecracker Guacamole, serve and enjoy! For a milder guacamole substitute a mild chile pepper for the habanero, or omit the chile.

Serves 16, each serving contains: Calories 140, Fat 11g., Cholesterol 0g., Fiber 30g.

Watermelon Breakfast To Go
1/3 cup low fat granola
3/4 cup de-seeded watermelon chunks
5 ounces yogurt of your choice

In a tall glass or to-go container, layer the ingredients in the following order: 1/2 of the granola, 1/2 of the watermelon chunks, 1/2 of the yogurt; repeat a second time to create two layers of each ingredient. Serves 1.

Pork Lettuce Wraps
1 pound lean ground pork
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 cup fresh chopped scallions
1 cup Hoisin sauce
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup minced seedless watermelon
8 large Bibb (or Iceberg) lettuce leaves

In a heavy, non-stick skillet over high heat brown the pork until well done. Reduce heat to medium and add the garlic, ginger and soy sauce to the pan. Stir for a few minutes and then add the scallions. Remove from heat and add the Hoisin sauce and pine nuts. Stir to mix well. Fold in the watermelon. Divide among the lettuce leaves, wrap and serve immediately. Serves 4-8.

Watermelon Jelly
6 pounds watermelon, including rind
3 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Canola oil for the dish
1 cup sparkling wine (optional)

Cut the watermelon into large pieces, discarding the rind. Place in a food processor and purée. Strain the puréed watermelon through a fine strainer to remove the pulp and seeds (this should yield about 3 cups of watermelon juice).

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the gelatin with 1 cup of the watermelon juice; let stand for 3 minutes. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, warm the remaining watermelon juice and the sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the gelatin mixture and lemon juice. Remove from heat.
Lightly oil an 8-inch square glass-baking dish. Pour in the mixture, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To serve, cut the jelly into cubes and divide among individual bowls. Drizzle the sparkling wine over the top, if desired. Serves 6.