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Tis the season for watermelon and some different ways to serve it

With summer just around the corner, the long-awaited watermelon season has begun.
Technically a vegetable, watermelon was first grown in northern Africa 5,000 years ago and is mentioned in the Bible as a staple of the Egyptian diet. Ancient watermelons probably weren’t very sweet. A Byzantine mosaic uncovered in Israel, dated from 425 CE, depicts a cut watermelon with yellow-orange flesh. Over time, they became redder as they were bred to be sweeter, because redness and sweetness are genetically paired.
The redder the melon, the more healthful beta-carotene it contains. Despite containing mostly water, watermelon also is a good source of phenolic antioxidants, flavonoids, lycopene and vitamins A and C.
Some recipes you may want to try this summer using the watermelon:
WATERMELON LEMONADE
INGREDIENTS
6 cups cubed seedless watermelon, chilled (2 pounds after peeling)
4 cups cold water
3/4 cup fresh strained lemon juice, chilled
2/3 cup granulated sugar (more or less to taste)
Ice and fresh mint for serving
INSTRUCTIONS
Add watermelon to a blender and pulse until well pureed (there should be about 4 cups). Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl
.In a large pitcher whisk together water, lemon juice and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Stir in pureed watermelon. Stir in ice and mint (alternately add ice and mint directly to individual cups and pour lemonade over). Store in refrigerator. If you don’t have time to chill the ingredients then just use more ice in place of some of the water.
WATERMELON SALSA
INGREDIENTS
1/2 baby seedless watermelon
1 large mango, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 bag tortilla chips
INSTRUCTIONS
Slice one baby seedless watermelon in half lengthwise. Trim a little off of the rounded edge of the watermelon, so it sits up like a bowl without rolling around. Use a spoon to scoop out the watermelon flesh of one half — being careful not to scoop all the way through the trimmed bottom — forming a bowl with the watermelon rind. Dice the watermelon flesh into bite-sized pieces.
Pour the diced watermelon, mango, onion, jalapeño, lime juice, lime zest, salt and cilantro into a large mixing bowl, tossing to combine.
Spoon the salsa into the watermelon bowl. The salsa tastes better as the flavors sit, so if you can, refrigerate this for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Serve with tortilla chips.
WATERMELON FETA SALAD
INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 cup medium cucumber, chopped
1 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
Flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)
DIRECTIONS
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt.
In a large serving bowl, combine watermelon, cucumber, feta, red onion, and mint. Pour over dressing, tossing to combine.
Garnish with more mint and flaky sea salt.
WATERMELON JELLY
(Watermelon may not preserve well, the way beans and berries do, but you can use the fruit to make a treat that will last you through fall and possibly even until next watermelon season (if you use judiciously). Watermelon jelly is a delightful way to preserve the flavors of this sweet fruit long after the growing season has ended. You can use it as a spread on toast, a drizzle over angel food cake, or even sandwiched between two halves of a hot and buttered biscuit.)
INGREDIENTS
6 pounds watermelon, including rind
3-1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Canola oil for the dish
1 cup sparkling wine (optional)
DIRECTIONS
Cut the watermelon into large pieces, discarding the rind. Place in a food processor and purée. Strain the puréed watermelon through a fine strainer to remove the pulp and seeds (this should yield about 3 cups of watermelon juice).
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the gelatin with 1 cup of the watermelon juice; let stand for 3 minutes. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, warm the remaining watermelon juice and the sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the gelatin mixture and lemon juice. Remove from heat.
Lightly oil an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Pour in the mixture, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To serve, cut the jelly into cubes and divide among individual bowls. Drizzle the sparkling wine over the top, if desired.