Watermelon – Sweet and Savory!

Capriole_tallent_038

It
is the tail end of watermelon season here in Indiana and I am stockpiling memories of crisp
sweetness to get me through til next July. I was never too much of a watermelon eater as a kid because, frankly, it
seemed like way too much sticky mess for minimal reward – all that dripping of
juice and spitting of seeds to get a fleeting mouthful of sugary, watery crunch. 

The
discovery of melon ballers and then, oh joy – seedless melons – turned me back
on to watermelon as an adult. But the best discovery of all was the revelation
that watermelon is not just for dessert after a cookout, but actually goes
great with savory flavors — like goat cheese, salt, chilies, and vinegar. A whole new world of watermelon-loving opened
before me.

One
of my favorites is Chef David Tallent’s Summer Melon Salad with Capriole Goat
Cheese

8-10
oz fresh Capriole goat cheese, softened

2
cups fresh herbs, chopped

Olive
oil

1
small, sweet watermelon (red or yellow), cut into dice or balls, as preferred

1
small to medium cantaloupe, cut as preferred

1
cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

½
pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half

4-5
oz baby salad greens and herbs (arugula, basil, tarragon, parley, mint, or a
combination)

Extra
virgin olive oil, to taste

Chopped
tarragon, to taste

Minus
8 vinegar (or other vinegar, as preferred), to taste

Salt
and pepper to taste

Blend
goat cheese and herbs in processor or by hand. Add a small amount of olive oil to moisten and smooth the mixture. Set aside.

Mix
melon, olives, tomatoes, and greens together. Toss with salt and pepper and chopped tarragon to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss gently. Add vinegar to taste, and toss again.

Plate
as desired, individually or family style, with a heap of salad garnished with
goat cheese quenelles (goat cheese shaped in ovals with two spoons) or scooped
with a melon baller. If desired, drizzle
with herb oil (1 cup of herbs pureed with canola or grapeseed oil (do not use
olive oil for this as the heat generated by the blender will make it
bitter.) Serve cold.

Serves
6.

The
combination of watermelon and goat cheese is really magic. Yesterday for lunch I just had a few slices
of perfect watermelon with some Capriole Farms Old Kentucky Tomme (one of my
favorite cheeses this year, but I was pretty fond of it last year too, when I
blogged about it here.) I don’t know why
goat cheese and watermelon work so well, but the salty, tangy cheese and the
crisp, sweet melon are a perfect combination.

Another
watermelon find was this recipe from Bloomington Cooking School owner Jan Bulla-Baker, for Watermelon Gazpacho.

Watermelon_gazpacho_019

Jan
Bulla-Baker’s Watermelon Gazpacho

10
cups watermelon, seeded and cubed

2
cups orange juice

¼
cup olive oil

1
½ English cucumbers, seeded and diced

1
large red pepper, seeded and diced

1
medium onion, diced

3
cloves of garlic, minced

1
tablespoon finely diced jalapeno peppers

3
tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lime juice

¼
cup cilantro, chopped

salt
and pepper to taste

Puree
6 cups of watermelon with orange juice and oil in blender or food
processor. Transfer to bowl and mix with
remaining ingredients. Blend with hand
blender to desired consistency. Season
with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate. Serves 15-25.

It’s
wonderful stuff, but if even that seems like too much effort on a hot summer
day, do what I did for lunch this afternoon. Slice up some watermelon, squeeze a juicy lime over it, and sprinkle it
with a mixture of spicy chili powder and kosher salt. My mouth is still happy.

(Both Dave’s and Jan’s recipes appear in articles by me in the August/September edition of Bloom Magazine.)

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Robyn M. says:

    Oh Oh OH! You are never going to believe this–I just shoved into the fridge the FRESH CHEVRE I made from the goats I’ve been milking ALL WEEK LONG for a friend of mine! Oooo… watermelon & chevre, here I come… btw, at Cafe Provencal in St. Louis we had a wonderful version of this salad that featured, I believe, a sweetened olive oil as dressing–total yum.
    Also, I finally did that sermon on food issues at my church last week to a great reception. It’s posted on my blog if’n ya wanna see it, although it’s quite inappropriate for a class, I think. I got quite a bit of interest in Slow Foods, though! May be a convivium in the offing here after all!

    Like

  2. AK says:

    Both look sooo light and refreshing!!

    Like

  3. Kalyn says:

    Lovely photo of the salad, and of course I would love this because there’s goat cheese and tarragon! What more do you need?

    Like

  4. Ronnie says:

    I’ve got a watermelon in the frig just waiting for this gazpacho. I’m psyched.

    Like

  5. Cynthia says:

    I am so going to be making that salad. Thanks Christine!

    Like

  6. Lydia says:

    The watermelon gazpacho looks divine, especially on this very hot evening in Rhode Island. Must be sure to try that before summer ends….

    Like

  7. Susan says:

    What cool recipes, as pretty as they are refreshing! Now I’m going to have to go out for watermelon – I have everything else!

    Like

  8. Christine, I love the idea of having watermelon on a salad!

    Like

  9. Lovely recipes, Christine, though I’m especially drawn to the salad; it must be as delicious as it is beautiful. I just posted a watermelon salad a couple of weeks ago with olives in it, and now I’ll be trying yours with goat cheese.
    I also posted about grilled watermelon today and linked to this post. We gotta make as watermelon dishes as we can before they’re gone! 🙂

    Like

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