2016-07-29 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Keep cool this summer with some watermelon
By Connie Wendell
Special to the Post

The weather has been very warm this July and will probably continue into August. It’s important to stay cool on these hot, summery days and watermelon is one way to accomplish that.

Whether it’s the main course, side dish or dessert – watermelon stand up to the challenge. I’ve included some favorite recipes that I hope you will try.

Of course the best way is still to just slice and eat it – delish.

Grilled chicken with watermelon glaze

1 recipe watermelon glaze; 1 whole chicken, cut up, chicken parts or boneless breast; salt and pepper to taste; snipped fresh herbs

Glaze

½ of a small water melon; 1 (12 ounce) jar apple jelly; peel and juice from 1 small lime; 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper; 1 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce; pinch of salt; and 1 cup reserved watermelon juice.

Cut watermelon in half. Slice and reserve one half for serving with chicken; refrigerate until serving time. Cut the remaining watermelon half into chunks (about 4 cups). Place in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl; discard solid bits. Reserve 1 cup of the juice and drink or freeze the rest.

In a small saucepan melt apple jelly over low heat, stirring often so it doesn’t burn. Stir in 1 cup watermelon juice, the lime juice and lime peel. Add crushed red pepper, hot sauce and salt and pepper. Mix and taste. Adjust seasonings as desired, remove from heat.

Chicken: Prepare grill for indirect grilling. Brush chicken with olive oil. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Place chicken on grill skin side down, on center of grill over indirect medium heat. Cover and grill for 25 minutes or until half done. Turn chicken and brush with glaze on skin. Cover and grill for 25 – 30 minutes more, or until juice run clear and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 180 degrees. Brush with glaze two more times during cooking time.

Remove chicken from grill and brush with glaze. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes. Serve with watermelon slices and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Serves six.

Flatbread panzanella with watermelon and feta

3 whole wheat pita bread rounds, halved crosswise and split horizontally; 4 cups torn romaine lettuce; 2 cups watermelon cut in 1-inch cubes; 1 cup chopped tomatoes (2 medium); ½ cup chopped red onion (1 medium); ¼ cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley; 3 tablespoons lemon juice; 3 tablespoons olive oil; salt and pepper to taste; ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)

Preheat broiler.

Arrange pita bread pieces, cut side up on a baking sheet. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted and crisp. Cool on the baking sheet. Break into bite-size pieces.

In a very large bowl gently toss together lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and parsley. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, oil and salt and pepper. Add lemon juice mixture to lettuce mixture; toss to coat. Add pita pieces, toss to combine. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves six.

Melon-hibiscus gelato

4 cups cubed, seeded cantaloupe or 2 ½ cups cubed, seeded watermelon; 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange or lemon peel; 1 cup sugar; 6 egg yolks; ¼ cups dried hibiscus flowers, coarsely broken (optional); 2 ¼ cups whole milk; 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk or whole milk; ¾ cup whipping cream; and ½ teaspoon salt.

In a blender or food processor combine melon and peel. Blend or process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve; discard pulp and peel. Measure 1½ cups of the melon liquid, set aside.

In a medium bowl combine sugar and egg yolks; beat with an electric mixer on high speed for four minutes. Set aside.

Place hibiscus flowers, if using, in a large tea ball or place on a 6-inch square of double thick cheesecloth, bring up sides, and tie closed with 100 percent cotton kitchen string.

In a large saucepan combine hibiscus, milk, coconut milk, cream and salt, heat just until simmering. Remove from heat; let stand for two minutes. Discard hibiscus.

Slowly stir 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Return all of the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan. Heat and stir for five to six minutes or until mixture thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon (185°F on an instant read thermometer). Be careful not to let mixture boil. Place saucepan in a bowl of ice water, stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes or until cool.

In a large bowl combine melon liquid and egg yolk-milk mixture, stirring until well mixed. Cover surface of the mixture with plastic wrap. Chill about 4 hours or until well chilled.

Freeze mixture in a two- to four-quart ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. If desired add a few drops of red food coloring.

Serves 16.

You are now having a very cool summer. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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