Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Recipe: Watermelon Mojito Salad (Perfect for 4th of July)

In a climate like Houston, summer is a lot like winter other places: you stay inside, watch TV, and hunker down, waiting for the weather to break. It's just too hot and humid for a lot of outside time that doesn't involve a swimming pool or sprinkler running. 

Hence, it's not exactly my favorite season. But there is one great reason to love summer everywhere: fresh fruit.

Of course, these days you can get fresh fruit any time of year - fruit that has flown across oceans and ridden in refrigerated comfort across continents. However, eating seasonally is much better for the planet -- fruit doesn't have to travel as far, so less energy is used. Plus, try a nectarine in December -- it's either going to be hard as a rock or a mealy mess.

Photo from Alexandra's Kitchen
But this is a great time for fruit. And obviously, it's delicious plain or in a simple fruit salad. However, you can get a little more creative cooking with fruit.

For example, my friends and I tried this delicious nectarine pizza with fresh basil and reduced balsamic from Alexandra's Kitchen. It's definitely going to be one of those recipes that I'll make every summer. The recipe calls for you to make your own crust, but we used a thin frozen one. It was perfect. You could also use a thin ready-made crust.

For one of our monthly work potlucks, I made a Watermelon Mojito Salad -- I call it that because it's minty and limey, like a mojito -- but there's no rum. Sorry.

This is a refreshing salad and it's very easy to make -- I made it when most of my house was packed up and I only had a few kitchen utensils available. Plus -- everyone loves it. Most folks have eaten sliced watermelon, but haven't tried it other ways.

Your 4th of July party will be a great place to debut this recipe!

Watermelon Mojito Salad


Cut these into bite-sized cubes
1/2 of a 3-5 lb. watermelon (after cubing it, drain out excess water with a colander)
2 cucumbers

4 oz. of crumbled feta
1 oz. of mint leaves, chiffonaded (you stack the leaves and roll them up, then cut). Save back a couple of sprigs for garnish.

Juice of 1-3 limes (depending on how lime-errific you want it)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Red pepper or cayenne (optional)

Step 1: Put the watermelon, cucumber, feta and mint into a bowl and gently toss together. You want to be careful not to smash the watermelon.

Step 2: Whisk together the lime juice and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. I know the idea of hot pepper on watermelon might sound weird, but it's amazing. You could add a few sprinkles to the dressing, or just put it on the table for folks to add to their serving.

Step 3: Pour the dressing over the salad. Gently toss again. Garnish with mint sprigs.

That's it! Easy peasy.

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