Watermelon is without question one of my favorite foods. I have loved it since I was a child, and I used to eat it, quite literally, down to the white rind. In addition to its low-calorie/high flavor appeal, watermelon reminds me of girlhood visits on my grandparents’ shady back porch, where my cousins and I would spit seeds into the dusky night while lightning bugs flickered around the white hydrangea blossoms. A game of freeze tag almost always followed.
In my 1960s childhood, a local grocery store chain advertised to a catchy tune that its watermelons were “thumpin’ good . . . red, ripe, and ready to eat; Cas Walker melons just can’t be beat!” And, although, the best watermelons always came from my dad’s garden, Cas Walker was right about one thing: the best way to choose a watermelon is by the sound. Oh sure, you can look at the stem, you can sniff for sweetness, but if you want a really good watermelon, put your ear close by and give it a thump! If it sounds hollow, it’s a sweet ripe melon. Trust me on this, and whenever possible buy a local watermelon; you’ll have no regrets.
So, once you have your perfect melon home, it’s time to slice it up. During peak season, we eat at least one watermelon a week, and we seldom ever eat it from the rind. I like to cut it into chunks and keep it cold to use in salads or to serve for dessert with blueberries.
And, now you’re all set with several days’ worth of watermelon in storage containers in the fridge, and a delicious fruit salad to accompany supper. My favorite watermelon recipe these days is a bit of a twist on the watermelon arugula salad that had my mouth watering a couple of years ago. It’s simply a little more family friendly—in other words, I’m the only arugula lover in this house!
baby spinach, rinsed and dried
fresh basil or cilantro, if you have either on hand, makes a nice addition
2 cups watermelon chunks
half a cup chopped peeled cucumber, optional
half a small red onion, coarsely chopped
4 ounces low-fat feta cheese, crumbled
to make the vinaigrette, whisk three parts olive oil to one part vinegar with a teaspoon of honey and a squeeze of lime juice, and a bit of kosher salt and black pepper to taste
And, now, it’s time for my nightime bowl of watermelon. I hope the lightning bugs are out!