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Sunday, September 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Water cooler: Watermelon plays a versatile role in summer cooking

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 6, 2020

Watermelon is in peak season right now in the Inland Northwest. Don’t let the season go by without getting your fix. Here are some ideas on how to enjoy all things watermelon this summer.

First you need to know how to pick them. Pick it up to judge the weight. It should feel heavy for its size. Next look for a yellow spot. When watermelons are ripe they develop a splotch of yellow where the rind rests on the ground. A creamy yellow color indicates that it’s ripe. For an extra measure of caution, give it a thump. A juicy, ripe watermelon will have a deep hollow sound whereas under-ripe and over-ripe melons will sound much more dull.

A watermelon is perfectly enjoyable on its own, but a little variety will help you enjoy watermelon all season long. Here are some ideas.

Berry watermelon fruit salad — Mix watermelon chunks with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black berries and a few halved and pitted cherries. Toss with a few squeezes of fresh lime juice.

Sweet and savory fruit salad — Mix equal parts (about 2 cups of each for two servings) of sliced strawberries, cubed watermelon, and quartered cucumber slices. Sprinkle in a handful of mint or basil leaves. Add a handful of feta cheese crumbles and 1 teaspoon of sumac spice. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. To make your own simply mix ½ cup of balsamic vinegar with 3 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Balsamic vinaigrette doesn’t always call for lemon juice, but it’s a great addition for this salad.

Watermelon slush — Cut watermelon into chunks and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure the chunks are not touching. Layer another piece of parchment and repeat. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, for about 2-4 hours. Take out of the freezer and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Throw it in the blender, add a squeeze of either lime or lemon juice and a bit of sugar to taste. If you’re having trouble blending the chunks, add small splashes of water until it is able to blend smoothly.

Watermelon pizza — Cut a round of watermelon about an inch thick. Blend one part softened cream cheese with one part whipped topping. Add a half cup of powdered sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla. Blend with a hand mixer until fully incorporated. Spread the mixture over the watermelon slice as your “sauce.” Add your favorite fruit chunks as your “pizza” toppings, like sliced strawberry, kiwi, peaches, oranges, pineapple, or berries.

Watermelon salsa — Combine 4 cups diced watermelon, 1 cup diced red onion, ½ cup chopped cilantro, and one seeded and finely diced jalapeño. Combine with the zest and juice of one lime and ½ teaspoon of salt. Let sit for an hour before serving for fuller flavor.

Chocolate dipped watermelon — Place watermelon cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure the cubes don’t touch. Stick a toothpick in each cube and freezer for about 30 minutes. Melt chocolate in the microwave or on the stove top using the double broiler method. Once the chocolate is melted and the watermelon is frozen, dip each cube into the chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt. Place each cube back on the tray after dipped and return to the freezer for a half hour or until ready to serve.

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