Carla's Corner: Watermelon Wonderland

It’s time to admit the obvious truth: with Labor Day comes the reminder that a chill will soon be in the air and the beloved summer bounty of produce will no longer be available. So let’s enjoy it while we still have it. Stockpile those summer goodies right now while they’re still available.

Let’s turn our attention to making the most out of watermelon. With a crunch leading to refreshing sweetness, watermelon is succulent on its own. But there are so many other fabulous ways to utilize watermelon. The popularity of seedless watermelons makes these options easier than ever—so no excuses.

Watermelon Sorbet or Popsicles
Purée watermelon with a touch of sugar and lime juice. Run the mixture through an ice cream machine for a sorbet, or mold and freeze into popsicles. Use any extra to fill an ice cube tray and add to lemonade.

Watermelon and Prosciutto Balls
Use a melon baller to scoop the melon into cute circular shapes. Wrap in prosciutto pieces and secure with toothpicks.

Watermelon Gazpacho
In a blender or food processor, combine watermelon, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, salt and balsamic vinegar. Top with a dollop of sour cream. Or, take a favorite gazpacho recipe and substitute watermelon for tomato. The result is a cool, refreshing soup to serve as a light lunch or to put in shooter glasses for a dinner party hors d’oeuvre.

Watermelon-Feta Salad
The saltiness of feta cheese complements the watermelon’s juicy sweetness. Layer slices of watermelon on a platter and top with red onion slices and mint sprigs. Add feta cheese crumbles and a drizzle of olive oil.

Watermelon-Gingerade
In a blender or food processor, add watermelon chunks, fresh or crystallized ginger, sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. Add to an ice-filled glass and top with seltzer.

Fruit Salsa
Let watermelon take center stage in a fruit salsa. In a small bowl, combine small watermelon chunks with chopped scallions, cilantro, jalapeños, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Use as a dip for chips or to garnish a piece of fish, like tilapia.

Grilled Watermelon
Mix equal parts of soy sauce and honey in a small bowl. Glaze over watermelon wedges and season with salt and pepper. Grill until browned, about two minutes on each side.

Watermelon Rind Pickles
What? You were going to throw away that watermelon rind? Instead, remove the skin, then chop the rind into bite-size pieces and cook them in boiling water until tender. Next, create a pickling combination, like a mix of sugar, vinegar, cloves and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stir to combine, and add rind pieces to it. Cook for five minutes, and let rind cool in mixture. Let the pickles sit in the mixture for a couple of days, then devour. Refrigerate and keep for two weeks.

Have you ever tried watermelon rind pickles? Chime in below!

Carla Hall was a finalist on Top Chef: Season 5 and runs Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C.

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