Stew’s First Taste of Summer: Watermelon!
Every summer, Stew Leonard’s will sell almost 3 million pounds of watermelon from June through August. It’s no secret why this refreshingly sweet and juicy melon is at the top of shoppers’ grocery lists all summer long!
Clocking in at 92% water, one big slice of watermelon equals about 8 ounces of water and offers excellent levels of vitamins A and C and a good level of vitamin B6. By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the United States, followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
Due to high demand, the majority of watermelons grown today are seedless – and they are getting redder and crisper thanks to seed breeding advancements like hybridization, which is the crossing of two different types of watermelons. *
According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, which represents 1,500 watermelon growers, shippers and importers nationwide, choosing and serving a great watermelon is as easy as 1-2-3:
Watermelon is delicious at breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between! Here’s how to pick the perfect watermelon:
• Look it over. Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.
• Lift if up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size. Watermelon is 92% water and most of the melon’s weight is water.
• Turn it over. The underside of a watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
Less than 40% of people wash their watermelon before eating it! As you cut into the melon, the knife can drag any bacteria from the surface and onto the sweet flesh of the watermelon. Washing your watermelon is the first step to enjoying it!
• Rinse watermelon with cool water.
• Scrub watermelon with a firm produce brush.
• Dry the watermelon with paper towels.
Did you know you can feed up to three dozen people from just one watermelon? According to a 2010 study by the Perishables Group, watermelon ranks #1 on the list of budget-friendly fruits. One watermelon can feed up to 3 dozen people! Here’s how to get the most out of your watermelon:
• Using a sharp, serrated bread knife, cut off the ends of the watermelon, providing a base and access to the peel and rind.
• Stand the watermelon on its base. Angle the knife, placing it where the white rind meets the red flesh. Following the curve of the fruit, cut off the rind.
• Cut the whole watermelon into disks, widthwise in the desired size of cubes.
• Lay the disks facedown, pushing the smaller disks to one side, and cut the same size stops in both directions.
• Use the whole watermelon – the rind is edible! Stir-fryed, stewed, or pickled. In fact, the first cookbook published in the United States in 1796, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, contains a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.
Whether you’ll be enjoying a wedge of watermelon as part of a backyard BBQ this summer or packing watermelon cubes in the cooler for the beach, watermelon is a versatile and refreshing addition to your summer menu! Here, Stew Leonard’s chefs share their favorite recipes for enjoying watermelon:
Chef Victor’s Watermelon & Strawberries Salad
Bright pink watermelon, red strawberries, and green basil make this a fresh, festive and healthy addition to any outdoor celebration this summer!
• 2 quarts sweet seedless watermelon chunks
• 2 quarts destemmed strawberries cut in half
• 2 oz. fresh basil cut in ribbons
• 2 oz. toasted pine nuts
• 4 oz. mild goat cheese, crumbled
• 2 oz. balsamic reduction
• To make the balsamic reduction:
• Over a burner set to medium-high, pour 1 cup balsamic vinegar into a non-stick pan.
• Bring vinegar to a boil.
• Once the vinegar is brought to a boil, turn down the heat to medium low and let the vinegar simmer, stirring occasionally. Keep cooking until the vinegar has reduced by half and has a syrupy consistency
• Transfer to a separate bowl to cook. Refrigerate in an air-tight container.
To make the salad:
Mix everything in a large bowl
Drizzle balsamic reduction over the top of each serving
Refreshingly sweet and tart! This will be your go-to lemonade for family gatherings, picnics, and more this summer.
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• 2 1/2 cups water
• 2/3 cups agave syrup
• 2 cups watermelon chunks
• Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve over ice.
• Makes about 5 cups.
Watermelon Feta Bruschetta*
An unexpected twist on a classic appetizer!
• 2 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
• 2 cups diced watermelon
• 1 cup feta cheese, cut into fine diced cubes
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
• 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
For 16 Toasts
• 1 24-inch-long loaf of crust Italian or French bread
• 1 garlic clove
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a bowl toss together watermelon, cheese, chives, mint, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste and mound about 1 tablespoon on oiled side of each toast.
To make toasts: Prepare grill or preheat broiler. With a serrated knife cut bread crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Combine the oil and garlic together and spread it on one side of the cut bread. Arrange bread slices in one layer in a shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes.
Watermelon BBQ Sauce*
Use this sauce as a marinade, glaze or sauce for anything you’ll be throwing on the grill this summer, from steaks and chicken to veggies and more!
• 1/2 cup watermelon juice
• 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Stir all ingredients together. Pour enough sauce over vegetables, chicken, pork, fish or shellfish to marinate. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Baste with additional sauce while grilling or broiling. Sauce not used for marinating or basting can be spooned over cooked vegetables and meats.
Servings: Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
*Statistics and recipes are courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board (www.watermelon.org).