Aug 6, 2013

Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef: Watermelon  By Maria Filosa

I'm Maria Filosa from WDIY and you're listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. If there was one fruit to choose that represented summer, without a doubt, that fruit would be watermelon. Sweet, refreshing, juicy and good for you, too. Watermelon  is actually classified as a pepo which is a berry with a hard rind and a fleshy center. Although the rinds are mostly various shades of solid and striped green, the flesh can range from white to yellow, to orange to deep red. Some have dark brown seeds while others, known as seedless, actually contain immature soft white seed shells that most people eat. With over 90 percent of fruit containing water, I like to dive right into a thirst quenching slice until my face is covered in the stuff...I even eat most of the seeds! Did you know they are good for you? In fact, nutritionally, watermelon, as a whole,  is one of those super foods. One cup only contains about 45 calories It is rich in antioxidants and is also an anti-inflammatory food. It contains vitamins A and C. Two compounds, lycopene and citrulline found in the rich red fleshy centers are important for cardiovascular health. Even the seeds contain small amounts of the minerals iron and zinc and a bit of protein as well. Some cultures roast and season the seeds to enjoy as a snack.  As an ingredient, watermelon can be quite versatile.

You can add watermelon chunks to almost any salad. Of course, any fruit smoothie could benefit with the addition of a little watermelon. And let's not forget the adult beverages like margaritas, martinis and daiquiris enhanced with watermelon puree. They taste amazing. 

Watermelon works as an ingredient for baking as well. While making a loaf of bread I discovered that I could replace all the water in my dough recipe with an equal amount of pureed watermelon. The resulting bread has a slightly pink color and a moist texture. To make this bread pour 1 1/4 cups of pureed watermelon into a mixer or sturdy blender. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of yeast and 4 cups of flour. Blend until mixture forms a ball. You may need to add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Remove from mixer and place onto a flour covered table. Knead the dough until smooth and silky in texture. Let dough rest about 30 minutes then divide dough in half placing one piece aside. Roll out remaining dough into a rectangle shape.  Melt a half stick of butter and brush onto dough.  Pour 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut over the buttered dough. Roll jelly roll style into a log. Place seam side down onto a cookie sheet and brush top with more butter then sprinkle more brown sugar and coconut on top. You could also add some chopped nuts if desired. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Let them rise one hour then bake in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. Let bread cool before slicing, if you can resist.

If you find yourself with an abundance of watermelon, why not make it into a jam and can it. Take about 2 pounds of the red flesh along with as much of the white part of the rind as you can scrape off. Dice everything and place into a saucepan. Add about 3 cups of sugar and if desired, some lemons cut into thin slices. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 hours. This will reduce into a syrupy texture. Sterilize 3-4 pint size mason jars and fill with the watermelon mixture. Wipe the rims with a wet cloth then seal with canning lids and rings. Place into a water bath covering jars with boiling water. Process for 15 minutes then remove the jars to cool. This would be a tasty dipping sauce for homemade spring rolls or spreading on a cake as a glaze.

So don't miss out, get to your grocery store and pick up one of those green beauties. You won't be sorry!

I'm Maria Filosa, thanks for listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. Have a bountiful day!