Watermelon Life Cycle – Part 2 – Spicy Slices, Salsa and Cooler

June 30th, 2010 / Comments 3

In my childhood, wedges of ice-cold, pink watermelon, dotted with shiny, black seeds were the before-dark, Fourth of July Picnic dessert. When the fireflies appeared and the bonfire was glowing, we moved on to sticky, hot, sometimes burned, toasted marshmallows.

pt f watermelon quarter 4 c egbert Watermelon Life Cycle   Part 2   Spicy Slices, Salsa and CoolerIt was important to eat the watermelon before sunset because we needed to be able to see who could spit seeds the farthest. Even the grown-ups enjoyed the contest and so, spitting, limited to seeds at picnics, was exempt from the general prohibition against spitting.

pt f watermelon last c egbert Watermelon Life Cycle   Part 2   Spicy Slices, Salsa and Cooler

The distance-spitting competition usually deteriorated into a melee of targeting siblings, rivals and unsuspecting pets.

Late in the afternoon, on July third, my dad would bring home a block of ice. He used an awe inspiring ice pick to break up the ice for the food cooler, the drink cooler and the metal tub that held the watermelon. For many years, I ate watermelon plain, not even dusted with salt. Watermelon juice dripped off my chin and down my arms.  It was sweet, pink, crisp, cool organized water.

pt f watermelon whole c egbert Watermelon Life Cycle   Part 2   Spicy Slices, Salsa and Cooler

Watermelon is an inexpensive fruit that is loaded with Vitamins C and A and also a source of the anti-oxidant, lycopene. Historians believe that it originated in Africa, and today China is the world’s largest producer of watermelon.  When I was traveling in Shanghai in the summer of 1985, the garbage collectors were on strike and watermelon rinds were piled high in empty lots across the city. There are more than a thousand varieties of watermelon ranging from under a pound softball size to gigantic fruits that weigh more than two hundred pounds.  Watermelon flesh may be red, orange, yellow or white.

I still love watermelon even though it rarely has the necessary ammunition for a distance competition or even target practice. I have progressed from serving plain chunks of watermelon to serving it sliced and dusted with smoky herbs, and have used it in salads, salsas, and drinks.  A sprinkle of seasoning and a squeeze of citrus made slices of watermelon sing.  Here’s how I made Spicy Watermelon Slices, Watermelon Salsa and Watermelon Coolers:

Spicy Watermelon Slices

I trimmed all of the green and most of the white rind from a wedge of watermelon before I cut it into quarter inch slices. I sprinkled a combination of one teaspoon of chili powder and a quarter of a teaspoon of kosher salt onto the watermelon that was arranged in one layer on a platter.  A generous squeeze of fresh lime juice on top added a finishing zing.

On a warm evening last week, I served colorful watermelon salsa made with both red and yellow watermelon as a cool side dish with grilled chicken. Here’s how I made it:

Watermelon Salsa

I cut two cups of watermelon into half inch dice and combined it with two tablespoons of thinly sliced scallions, one finely diced jalapeno pepper without its seeds, a handful of cilantro leaves, a quarter of a teaspoon of kosher salt, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. This salsa is easy to put together and best eaten the day it is made. When I have a red onion in the pantry, I use it instead of the scallions.

Cooling lemonade with frozen watermelon cubes gives pink lemonade a new look without diluting the flavor. Here’s how:

Watermelon Cooler

I put a single layer of watermelon chunks on a foil lined cookie sheet and froze them.  I used the watermelon cubes instead of ice cubes to chill my favorite lemonade. I have also used watermelon cubes to chill fruit punch and seltzer water. I store frozen watermelon cubes in a plastic freezer bag and like to add one to a glass of orange juice at breakfast.

Watermelon has been cultivated since the second century BC and is eaten in many countries around the world. Although watermelon is not depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics, many watermelon seeds were recovered from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. I wonder if he got to be pharaoh because he could spit seeds further than anyone else.>> Print This Post <<

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• 3 Responses to “Watermelon Life Cycle – Part 2 – Spicy Slices, Salsa and Cooler”

  • With the bounty of watermelon this summer, what a creative use! Love your pictures.

  • Drick says:

    like your salsa very much, the simplist is always the best

  • Roger Lindland says:

    The Watermelon Cooler was a big hit with our grandchildren. A novel idea and way of making a simple glass of lemonage a special event on this warm day. We’ll try it with the orange juice tomorrow.

    Thanks again for the fun food and the place cards for the Fourth of July. You’ve become a great hit within the Lindland circle.

    Roger and Doris Lindland
    Rancho Santa Fe, CA

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