Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

Featured Item–Watermelon

Is there anything better than a slice of fresh, sweet, juicy watermelon on a hot summer day?I think not.I’ve felt so strongly about this in the past that until recently, I wouldn’t eat watermelon any other way.But slowly I’ve been giving up that perfect slice in order to explore new ways to eat this very special vegetable.I started by pureeing the flesh and making healthful ice pops for my son.He loved them! That led to making delicious sorbets and granitas.Just recently I have even forayed into the savory world, using watermelon in interesting non-sweet dishes.

But of course, watermelon is so sweet that it is sure to add that wonderful element to even savory dishes, which is what makes it so fun.The combination of sweet and salty, as well as the differences in textures in savory preparations is truly unique.So if you are a traditionalist like I was, think about saving a few slices of that perfect watermelon for some true culinary adventures. (See recipes below).

Watermelon has been around for millennia.It originated in Africa and has been found depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics dating as far back as 5,000 years.It is now the most popular melon consumed in the US.Watermelon is a member of the curcurbitaceae family, which also includes cucumbers, cantaloupe, squash, and pumpkins.While there are many varieties of watermelon, they are basically represented by 5 basic types:seeded, seedless, yellow, orange, and mini.

At Holcomb farm, five varieties of watermelon are grown.Yellow varieties include New Orchid, Sunshine, and Yellow doll.All have very sweet yellow flesh, and bright green rinds with dark green stripes.New Orchid and Sunshine varieties are similar, but New Orchid tends to be larger.Yellow doll has the advantage of being an early maturing variety.For red-fleshed watermelon, Holcomb has grown the Crimson Sweet (dark and light green striped rind) and the Sugar Baby (dark, almost black rind).

While they are full of delicious sugars, watermelons also boast several nutritional advantages.They are full of vitamins A and C and contain a good amount of potassium (an electrolyte), making them a natural thirst quencher.The red varieties also contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, and all color varieties contain beta-carotene.

Choose firm, symmetrical melons without dents or bruises and that feel heavy for their size.Store at room temperature until cut, at which point all uneaten portions should be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator.Because watermelons sit on the ground as they grow, it is important to wash the outside of the entire melon before cutting into it.


Grilled Watermelon and Cucumber Relish      Serves 6


– 3 1 1/2″ slices watermelon

– 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded

– 1/3 cup minced red onion

– 1 large jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, minced

– 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

– 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

– 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1. Spray or brush watermelon slices and cucumber halves with olive oil spray (or brush with olive oil).Preheat grill to medium.Place watermelon and cucumber halves on grill.Grill, covered, for 1 1/2 minutes.Leave cucumber slices alone but turn watermelon slices over.Grill, covered, for another 1 1/2 minutes.Remove watermelon slices to a plate and turn cucumber halves on grill.Cover grill and grill cucumbers 3 minutes more.Remove cucumbers from grill.

2. Chop watermelon flesh and cucumber halves into 1/3″ pieces.Place in a medium bowl.Add red onion, jalapeno, mint, vinegar and olive oil and toss to coat well.Serve immediately with grilled fish or meat.


Thai Crab and Watermelon Salad                 Serves 4-6



– 1 teaspoon grated fresh lime rind, about 1 lime

– 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

– 2 teaspoons sugar

– 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce

– 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

– salt to taste, about 1/8 teaspoon, depending upon saltiness of fish sauce


– 1 pound lump crabmeat

– 1/3 cup minced shallots

– 2/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

– 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

– 1 cup small diced fresh seeded watermelon

– 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

– 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil


1. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients.

2. Pick through crabmeat and remove any bits of shell.Gently squeeze out excess moisture from crab.Place crab in a medium bowl.Gently mix in bell peppers, shallots, green onions, mint, basil and dressing until well combined.Serve immediately.


Watermelon Basil Granita     Serves 6


– 1/4 cup granulated sugar

– 1/4 cup water

– about 1/8cup fresh basil leaves

– 4 cups chopped seedless watermelon

– 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


1. In a small pan, mix sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat.Remove from heat and stir in basil leaves.Allow mixture to steep and cool to room temperature.

2. Place watermelon in a blender and blend until completely smooth.Place a sieve over the top of the blender and pour syrup into watermelon mixture, pressing on basil leaves in sieve to release oils into the mixture.Discard basil leaves.Add lime juice to watermelon mixture.Blend just to mix.Place mixture in an 8 X 8 metal baking pan (like a brownie pan) and place uncovered in the freezer.Freeze for 30-45 minutes, or until icy on edges but still liquid in the center.Using a fork, stir mixture and break up any icy parts, scraping icy sides of pan and bringing ice crystals to the center.Repeat every 30 minutes for about 3 hours, or until you have a frozen granular mixture.Freeze until ready to serve.

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