Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Official Fruit of the summer of 2010

By Charles Dion Springfield

The first day of summer is just about a month away, but I’m going to go out on a limb and make a bold prediction about what will be the hottest fruit consumed this summer. And no, I’m not talking about Ricky Martin. I’m talking about watermelon.

Why would I predict that? Watermelon is always a staple of the summer season, right? That is correct. It is an old summer standby. But similar to “Iron Chef America,” I believe it will be the OFFICIAL ingredient in several dishes, cocktails, beverages and deserts consumed this summer.
Since I’ve moved to NYC, I’ve been bombarded with watermelon. It makes a weekly appearance in my apartment thanks to my roommate. I chalked it up to him being from Louisiana and his love of a sweet, juicy watermelon on a hot southern day. But as I ventured around town from Uptown to Downtown, I started to see watermelon all over the place; from a Fresh Watermelon Martini at French Roast on 85th and Broadway to a Watermelon Salad with grilled shrimp, feta cheese, shaved onion and spicy red wine vinaigrette at the uber popular restaurant Cafeteria in Chelsea.

Therefore, I’m claiming it as the Official Fruit of the summer of 2010. And I think you should too.

Not only is watermelon juicy and delicious, it’s very good for you too. Watermelon is an excellent source of Vitamin C and a very good source of Vitamin A, notably through its concentration of beta-carotene, according to published reports. High doses of vitamin C and beta-carotene have been shown in a number of scientific studies to reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce the airway spasm that occurs in asthma, reduce the risk of colon cancer, and alleviate some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Sources also report that watermelon is also a very concentrated source of the carotenoid, lycopene. Lycopene has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties.

Now, I’m far from being Oprah. So I’m obviously not empowered enough to cause a nation-wide watermelon movement. Although, I would love to scream: EVERYONE READING THIS BLOG TODAY GETS A WATERMELON!!! You get a watermelon! And you get a watermelon! And you get a watermelon!

But what I can do is provide you with some inspiration for infusing watermelon into your life this summer. Below are two amazing recipes courtesy of FOOD Network stars Bobby Flay (Watermelon Martini) and Paula Deen (Watermelon Salad with Mint) and Enjoy! And stay tuned for more recipes and stories on how to make watermelon your Official Fruit of the summer of 2010.


· 1/2 cup sugar
· 1/2 cup water
· 5 cups watermelon, seeds removed
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
· 1 1/4 cups vodka
· 2 ounces melon liqueur, optional
· 8 lemon twists, for garnish

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let cool. In a food processor, puree the watermelon. Add a little of the sugar syrup to sweeten, to taste. Pour the pureed watermelon into 2 empty ice cube trays and freeze for at least 4 hours.

In a blender combine the frozen watermelon cubes, more simple syrup, to taste, lemon juice and vodka, melon liqueur and blend until smooth. Pour into 8 frozen martini glasses and garnish with a lemon twist.

***If you’re anything like me, you like to mix up your own concoctions. If that’s the case, I would recommend creating your own version of this cocktail by trying watermelon liqueur or watermelon juice. And you can also try incorporating lemonade, lime juice and/or a lemon flavored vodka.


· 1 (5-pound) watermelon
· 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
· 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
· Salt and pepper
· 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
· 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
· 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
· 6 whole mint sprigs

Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds. Set aside. Peel and slice the onion into rings.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint and taste. Adjust seasonings if needed.

In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.
To serve, divide salad among individual plates and garnish with mint leaves.

***Feel free to put your own unique twist on this recipe as well by adding marinated and grilled shrimp, chicken, pork, salmon or tofu.


  1. I'm originally from Alabama but I NEVER liked watermelons.. but I'm gonna check out the martini recipe! CHEERS!

  2. now you know i'm hollaring!!! salina don't eat watermelon...LOLOLOL but i do and i will be trying the martini recipe:)

  3. And I'm hollering to because that was my very thought Salina doesn't eat The Salad sounds awesome and a watermelone martini would be like heaven.