People, watermelons are at their sweetest, sugariest, juiciest best! At season’s peak! Seedless and seeded, round and oblong, green, striped, and yellow, these berries are in every grocery store like Christmas trees in December! I can’t pass one up for the life of me!

An iconic summer fruit, it just exudes all things summer: ahhhhh . . . vacation . . . no work . . . no school . . . sleep in . . .  skip makeup . . . take a drive to the beach . . . come back exhausted . . .  cut up a chilled watermelon, whip up a quick salad . . . siesta time . . . hit the hammock in the backyard . . . doze off to the humming of the bees and dragonflies, the rustling of the trees, and your preschooler’s incessant why’s . . . wake up hungry . . . make your better half fire up the grill . . .  share a cocktail . . . listen to the giggles on the swing . . .  neighbors talking in the distance . . . pass around a tray of frozen treats . . . smoke tickling nostrils . . . hot dogs . . . s’mores . . . classic repertoire . . . spice things up with a glass of wine-infused fruit sorbet . . . a whiff of night jasmine floating by . . . getting dark . . . crickets singing an ode to the night . . . grab a book . . . stay up late . . . tomorrow is another lazy day . . .

summer

Summer in Florida

 

Lazy, leisurely, easy, breezy, shortcuts, potlucks, ordering in, eating out, store-bought, self-serve, I welcome you all in as I take a few weeks off away from the stove, letting the season’s bounty—and the freezer—do most of the work for me. As the summer food issue of Martha Stewart’s Living suggests, “A sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of olive oil, or a squeeze of lemon is often all you need.”

South Beach in Miami, FL

South Beach in Miami, FL

With that in mind, I decide to put to work the lazy watermelon that’s traditionally devoured straight up. Well, the first one of the season clearly gets devoured. The second one gets savored over a span of a few days, the third one could possibly get mixed into a smoothie, a spritzer or a margarita; however, the fourth one is just likely to sit in the fridge for an indefinite period, become an eyesore, and get tossed out. Unenviable lot for a fruit that is low in fat and sodium, and high in antioxidants and vitamins, don’t you think? It certainly deserves more creative ways of using up its healthful goodness.

 watermelon

Luscious Watermelon

Although even eating it straight up calls for some talent. First of all, how good are you at cutting a watermelon without cutting your fingers, getting your light summer clothes stained and losing—oftentimes—the juiciest pieces to the floor? Secondly, do you slice it? Cube it? Carve it into triangles? Or, like me, slash it in half, grab a spoon, and dig in? How’s that for resourcefulness? Just kidding. The bottom line is you can’t get totally lazy when dealing with a watermelon. But once you get to its juicy and sugary inside safe and sound, try to jazz things up with the ingredients you never imagined would go well with it. You’ll be surprised how easy-going this summer fruit is. How versatile. How compatible. You’ll be glad you did some of the work.

juicy watermelon

Watermelon Salad

This super-easy-to-make salad is perfect for when you come back home from the beach exhausted by the sun, the sand, and the sea. On a plate, combine 1 medium yellow heirloom tomato, sliced, 1 cup watermelon, cubed, and 1 tablespoon of cilantro, chopped. Sprinkle with zest and juice of ½ lime and a pinch of sea salt. Chill 15 minutes. Makes 1 serving

Adapted from the Russian magazine Стаил

watermelon salad

Frozen Watermelon Pops

These frozen teats are just the thing for the kids to keep cool and hydrated while playing outside. Cut watermelon into popsicle-shaped rectangles and insert a wooden treat stick a couple of inches into the center of each rind. Dip “popsicles” into orange juice or whatever juice you have on hand and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 3 to 4 hours or until watermelon is firm.

Adapted from Publix Family Style magazine

watermelon pops

Watermelon and Pomegranate Sorbet

This sophisticated wine-infused dessert is like a fine French perfume: it reveals itself slowly . . . layer after layer. . .

The top layer of icy, sweet, and cotton candy-like whipped watermelon melts into the heart of the sorbet—the spice bouquet of vanilla, cinnamon, and citrus zest—and settles on your tongue with the peppery tartness of the sensual pomegranate.

Watch out for the buzz! This intangible layer usually hits you when you stand up.

watermelon sorbet

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 lemon

1 orange

1 vanilla bean

1 cinnamon stick

½ clove stick

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 ½ cups seedless watermelon

½ cup no-sugar-added pomegranate wine (you can use any red fruity wine)

Ice cream maker

watermelon and pomegranate sorbet

Directions:

1. Wash, dry, and thinly slice lemon and orange. Cut vanilla bean open lengthwise.

2.  In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to boiling; add sugar, lemon and orange slices, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and clove. Stir to dissolve sugar completely. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

3. In a blender or food processor, mix watermelon with wine and puree until frothy for a whipped effect. Add to the spice mixture. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

4. Press the puree through a strainer to remove the pulp and the spices.

5. Cover and chill for 4 hours or until completely chilled. (I chilled overnight.)

6. Freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes about 3 quarters of a quart

Note: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the mixture in a shallow dish overnight or until completely frozen.

Adapted from the Russian magazine Стаил

 

Last but not least, here’s a quick guide on how to pick a ripe watermelon:how to pick a ripe watermelon

 

crape myrtle dwarf tree

Pink Crape Myrtle Dwarf Tree