By Peyton Roberts
At first I didn’t think watermelon deserved its own feature because, well, it’s watermelon. We all know what you do with it. You cut it into triangles and serve it to kids on hot summer days, preferably outside so they can drip all over the place and have seed-spitting contests. End of post.
But remembering what Dona said about mango season ending, I figured I better try one of these before summer ends and the big piles of watermelon disappear from the bins at the grocery store.
I lugged my 8-lb. watermelon home, positioned it on the cutting board, and grabbed my biggest chef’s knife to begin the part about watermelon prep I dread most… hacking into it. To my surprise, the outer shell was easy to slice into. Before me lay two beautiful, perfectly pink watermelon halves. Within seconds the kitchen smelled like sweet summer.
I started the process of seeding and sorting the first half of the watermelon. I didn’t start out with a plan for how to do this, but I ended up with one big bowl for melon pieces, a medium bowl for juice, and a small bowl for seeds. I used a tea infuser to quickly strain the seeds out of the juice that was left in the watermelon shell after all the melon had all been cut out.
A few minutes into the sorting process, it dawned on me that a seedless watermelon from Mexico would have been considerably less work. True, less work, but also considerably less fresh. I don’t remember my kitchen smelling this sugary the last time I cracked open a well-traveled watermelon. It only took about five minutes and the seeds were separated, leaving me with an empty shell, lots of pretty pink juice, and a bowl full of scrappy watermelon pieces.
I remember seeing a mouth-watering picture of a watermelon salad in a magazine not long ago. I couldn’t find the exact recipe, so I started playing around with flavors from my kitchen that might help recreate that beautiful salad. After a trip to the Herb Jungle, I ended up with this recipe, sweet and simple.
Watermelon Cucumber Salad
Adapted from Taste of Home
2-1/2 cups fresh chopped/diced watermelon
1 cup chopped local cucumber
2-3 sprigs fresh mint
salt and pepper
Combine melon, cucumber, and mint, mixing gently. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Serve in a watermelon rind bowl for bonus cuteness points.
Next I measured the bowl of juice, which came to 1-1/2 cups. I poured the watermelon juice into a glass over ice and sipped the sweetness. Yum!
1-1/2 cups watermelon juice
6 ice cubes
1-2 tbsp. chopped mint (optional but recommended!)
mint for garnish
Fresh Factor Tip: If you don’t have an herb garden of your own, locally grown mint, basil, and parsley are sold at Payless for $2.99/pack.
So far I had thrown nothing away and had created a salad, a bowl, and a drink using only half the watermelon! So naturally I finished off the other half by doing what you do with watermelon… cutting it into triangles and serving it to kids.
In the spirit of using every fresh morsel available, I took my chances with the seeds and tossed them under some soil in my backyard. Seedless is convenient, for sure. But seeds are the tiny vessels of change that initiate new life and growth. Seeds, small as they are, instill hope and represent the future. Thanks to the seeds, I have now hope that my future will be full of fresh watermelon.
Peyton Roberts is a military spouse who moved to Guam from the States in July 2010. She started her blog, Peyt’s Island, as a way to keep friends and family informed about what island life is like. Over time, that space transformed into a forum for writing about her experiences discovering Guam’s beauty, and more recently its flavors. Peyton loves all Guam adventures, whether land or sea, and has a passion for sharing ideas about incorporating local produce into regular family cooking. At the Fresh Factor, Peyton shares recipes, interviews, and information about all things fresh on Guam.