Tuesday, July 19, 2016

“Watermelon & Pomegranate Tossed Salad” And “Watermelon-Cranberry Agua Fresca” For Summer Gatherings

Welcome, come on in…. Get cool, I have the A/C on. It has been really hot and humid so far and what comes to my mind is a big slice of crunchy watermelon! It is so refreshing and tastes so good especially if it is icy cold. Watermelon is one of my favorite summer fruits. July just happens to be “National Watermelon Month!” 

Watermelon Month was submitted to the Senate of the United States and passed on June 29, 2007. Now this month should not be confused with “National Watermelon Day,” which is celebrated every August 3rd. “National Watermelon Month” is to honor and enjoy the great flavor of a juicy ice cold watermelon. You can eat them sliced, cut in chunks or just from the rind. Some people like to put a sprinkle of salt on top and enjoy it, while others like to blend it up and make refreshing slushy or put it in a cold salad.

There's something fun and sociable about eating a tasty watermelon outside with your family and friends. Children gather around the designated watermelon slicer just to be able to hear that nice ripe pop when it's cracked open. Everyone gets a nice fat wedge and begins to eat the sweet juicy red melon.... and the best part is, we don't even mind the juice running down our chin! Watermelon seems to be the standard for picnics and outdoor socials. Then there are the black seeds, (unless you have a seedless melon) which I remember when I was young, we had contests to see who could spit the black seeds the furthest. 

The origins of watermelon have been traced back to the deserts of southern Africa, where it still grows wild today. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred about 5,000 years ago in Egypt and is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics on walls of their ancient buildings. Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. From there, watermelons were brought to countries along the Mediterranean Sea by way of merchant ships. By the 10th century, watermelon found its way to China, which is now the world's top producer of watermelons. The 13th century found watermelons spreading through the rest of Europe via the Moors.

More than 300 varieties of watermelon are cultivated in the United States and South America, where complementary growing seasons provide a year-round supply of watermelon in an array of shapes, colors and sizes. Because there are so many varieties, they are often grouped according to characteristics, like fruit shape, rind color, pattern, and size. The most common watermelon options are:

Seeded: The classic watermelon comes in a wide range of sizes. (15-45 lb, round, long, oblong)

Seedless: Due to high demand, the majority of watermelon cultivars grown today are seedless and they are getting redder and crisper thanks to seed breeding advancements. They are not the result of genetic engineering, but rather hybridization, the crossing of two different types of watermelons. (10-25 lb, round to oblong)

Mini: Petite “personal watermelons” are easy to handle and their thinner rinds can mean more flesh per pound. Hollow them out for a serving bowl. (1-7 lb, round)

Yellow & Orange: Generally sweeter than red-fleshed watermelon, yellow and orange varieties add a surprising element to the plate or glass. (10-30 lb, round)

There are health benefits to eating watermelon. A great health fact to know about watermelons is that it's an excellent source of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is only found in a few red plant foods. It has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. It also qualifies for a great heart healthy food too! Watermelon is 92% water! The body needs a lot of water to function so this is a good thing. It's nutritious and good for us! Watermelon has no fat or cholesterol which makes it a parent’s favorite snack to give to their children. Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin A, B6, C, potassium and fiber which we all struggle to get more of. These vitamins are vital to good health and disease prevention.

Do you know how to pick a watermelon? Here is a good tip! It's as easy as 1, 2, 3. Look the watermelon over. You are looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents. Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size, due to the fact of its water content. Turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. So go get yourself a few and chill them up. Have fun with them, enjoy eating them, and definitely celebrate the Watermelon!

Today, I am sharing with you two recipes that I know you will enjoy, using watermelon. “Watermelon & Pomegranate Tossed Salad”and  “Watermelon-Cranberry Agua Fresca,” yummy, cold and refreshing!

Watermelon & Pomegranate Tossed Salad”

Ingredients for dressing for salad:
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (Pomegranate vinegar is the best)
1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
1 small minced shallot
1/8 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Dash of salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the salad:
8 cups baby spinach (one 6-oz bag)
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 cups diced seedless watermelon (placed on paper towel to drain excess fluid)
Some fresh raspberries (6oz.)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Place juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer until reduced to about 3 tablespoons and liquid is a thick syrup. Set aside. When cool, add remaining dressing ingredients, from vinegar to salt and pepper. Whip. Set aside for flavors to blend. Place spinach in a large serving bowl. Top with onion, watermelon, feta cheese, raspberries, and pomegranate seeds. Divide onto 4 salad places and drizzle with dressing.

Yield: Makes 4 servings and 3/4 cup of dressing.

Watermelon-Cranberry Agua Fresca

Serves: 6

2 1/2 lbs (about 7 cups) seedless watermelon, rind removed and diced
1 cup fruit-sweetened cranberry juice (sometimes called cranberry nectar)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 lime, cut into 6 slices

In a blender or food processor, blend the watermelon until smooth. Pour the juice into a large pitcher. To eliminate pulp, use a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Add the cranberry and lime juices to the pitcher, and mix well. Refrigerate until very cold. Pour the agua fresca into tall, chilled glasses and garnish each with a fresh lime slice.

******* Optional: You could make this an adult drink, by adding your favorite alcohol.

Till Next Time……………………………….........................................

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  1. Love watermelon! I have it for breakfast at least 5 times a week at this time of the year. And will often have it for lunch or dinner too! Thanks for all the great info and recipes -- a really fun post to read! :-)

    1. Hi John,
      Thank you for visiting and your comment. Glad that you liked this post..I agree watermelon is amazing. I could eat it all the time too. Yes, these recipes are perfect for a hot summer day! Enjoy the rest of your week...
      Dottie :)

  2. So much freshness here! I have not yet had watermelon this year, I usually wait to go to Italy where they are sweet and plentyful and also it needs to be very hot to really enjoy a slice or two of this delicious fruit.
    I really like your salad, I could eat it everyday and your drink looks so refreshing. I hope you are enjoying a really nice and hot summer. BACIONI!

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thank you for your visiting and your comment. I am happy that you liked this post. Yes, watermelon is delicious. But I agree it has to be really hot out and the melon needs to be icy cold. Yes, that salad is yummy and also nutritious. Love the light drink too..nothing too heavy on a real hot day. I am sure watermelon must be awesome in Italy. Yes, so far the summer is going well..Hope that you enjoy your trip and vacation to Italy. Ciao! and Bacioni!
      Hugs Dottie :)

  3. Dear Dottie, Tammy loves watermelon. The minute we see one in the market within a second it is in the basket.
    I love the retro picture of the lady eating the watermelon.
    The salad sounds refreshing a delish for this very, very warm weather as well the the cool drink to go with it.
    I hope that you are doing well and resting and taking it slow with this brutal heat.

    1. Dear Catherine,
      Thank you for visiting and your comment. I agree with Tammy..I really don't know anyone who doesn't love watermelon. So sweet and juicy, it just seems like summer to me. I love that photo too...retro photos are fun to see..plus she is a plump woman not someone that is perfect in size..This salad I could eat every day of the week.. So yummy. it also equals out the sweet with the bitter leaves of the lettuce. A cool drink is just what we all need in this horrible heat. I am trying to do the best I can, resting in the A/C..been under the weather this week with a stomach flu and a sinus infection. But that God I am doing well now. Thank you so much for always thinking of me..Hope that you are all well there...have to get to your posts that I missed...Enjoy the rest of the week..
      Hugs Dottie :)