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Tag Archives: watermelon

Watermelon Tomato Summer Salad

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I’m beginning to feel like I’m being set up to play the role of the little old lady who swallowed a fly. I live in a quiet suburban neighborhood outside of Syracuse, NY. It’s a peaceful neighborhood, filled with big, old trees; trees with stature and history. But it’s not a wooded area, by far. It’s neither city, nor country. Just a nice, old suburban neighborhood.

And as in many suburban neighborhoods, we have the occasional sightings of small woodland creatures; squirrels, chipmunks, an infrequent rabbit…nothing too unusual. Every so often, we have the pleasure of spotting a befuddled deer standing in the middle of the road, before it gallops off to find its family. But lately, these sightings are becoming more common and increasingly bizarre. Deer seem to be everywhere these days. (One of them even charged my husband’s car the other night.) And I’ve yet to figure out the large crane-like bird I spotted standing beside the small creek which runs behind my local Target.

Since our yard is fully fenced, animal sightings (aside from our own labrasaurus rex) on our property were once rare. Lately however, it’s a practical wild kingdom out there. Our perimeters have been breached. We are now the proud step-parents of a sweet brown bunny with a fluffy white tail, an orange mouse-catching tabby cat, at least one chipmunk, and a woodchuck…all of whom visit on a regular rotating basis whenever the kids or dog are not occupying the yard. Just this morning, I watched as the tabby cat (sans mouse) took his patrolling position atop the fence, much to the dismay of the woodchuck who was leisurely roaming the yard. It’s like my very own menagerie out there. Anyone know what woodchucks eat?

She swallowed the deer to catch the woodchuck. She swallowed the woodchuck to catch the crane. She swallowed the crane to catch the cat. She swallowed the cat to catch the mouse. She swallowed the mouse to catch the fly… I don’t know why she swallowed the fly. Perhaps she’ll die.

I don’t think I like where this is all headed.

But it’s no wonder my neighborhood is being taken over by the wild. It’s been absolutely gorgeous out there. Gone are the winter coats and gone are the days of heavy macaroni and cheeses, filling casseroles, and slow-cooked roasts. This is the time for simple grilled foods and light, refreshing side dishes, like this watermelon and tomato salad. This salad just screams summer to me. Sweet watermelon and fresh orange segments are tossed with summer-ripe tomatoes in a light orange-dijon vinaigrette. It’s beautifully vibrant in both color and flavor!

I served this summery salad as part of our Father’s Day dinner, aside slices of grilled flank steak, which I drizzled in balsamic reduction and topped with gorgonzola and homemade crispy onion straws. It’s a perfect meal to bring in the summer!

Watermelon-Tomato Summer Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups seedless watermelon, scooped into small balls
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 oranges, segmented*
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly shaved
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade**
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (from one of the oranges)
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper
*Click HERE to see my photo guide on how to segment an orange.
**Click HERE to see my photo guide on how to chiffonade.

Directions

Combine the watermelon, cherry tomatoes, orange segments, red onion, and basil in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, and orange zest until well blended. Season with salt and crushed red pepper as desired. Pour the vinaigrette over the fruits and toss to combine. Serve chilled.

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Feta Cheese Mousse and Summer Fruits

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I shrieked at the grocery store. People were staring, a look of pity on their faces for the poor, crazy girl shrieking over produce. Or maybe their look was of concern for the two children in the crazy girl’s care. But I promise there was good cause for shrieking. Honest, there was.

You see, I had gone to the store to buy watermelon for today’s recipe. My grocery store likes to play a game with its customers by constantly rearranging the items in the produce section. I swear that if I walked from the produce section to frozen foods and back again, the apples would be someplace different. Anyway, I found the watermelon. Score one for me! And then I spotted the sign; the sign which read Fresh Figs. Fresh Figs!!!  My heart skipped a beat. My eyes went into overdrive scanning for the aforementioned fresh figs! They landed on their target and that’s when the shriek escaped from my mouth. First fresh figs of the season!

I told you there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for my reaction!

Figs make me think about Greece and a lovely dinner my husband and I enjoyed on the patio of a restaurant that sat on one edge of a huge town square. As we were preparing to pay the bill, the waiter brought over two glasses of ouzo, on the house. We were delighted. Moments later, the owner of the restaurant appeared, carrying a plate full of fresh figs and other fruits. It was the first time I’d ever tasted a fresh fig. The owner, whose English was excellent, chatted with us for a while. He then proceeded to plan our wedding, which was to take place the next morning at the church across the square, excitedly claiming that he knew the priest and could arrange everything for us. Just come back tomorrow morning and you get married, he instructed. We did not take him up on his offer to marry that next morning, though part of me wishes we did. But that was well before our marrying days. Good memories though, which make figs taste extra sweet to me.

Thankfully, fresh figs fit beautifully into my existing plan for today. I’ve been thinking a lot about cheese mousse since making the mixed berry mousse last week. I’d tentatively decided that I would make a goat cheese mousse this week. Well, after yesterday’s Farfalle with Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts, I’ve got a tub of leftover feta cheese in my fridge. So, Feta Cheese Mousse it is! My plan was to pipe the goat cheese mousse into cubes of fresh watermelon. We’ll still be doing that. But now we’ll also be piping the mousse onto fresh figs! Oh, glorious summer treat!

Serve these little snacks as a first course appetizer, an hors d’ oeuvres, or even as a lunch over some mixed greens!

Feta Cheese Mousse

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Feta Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup Heavy Cream, divided

Directions

Whip 1/2 cup of the heavy cream until it begins to form firm peaks.* Set the whipped cream aside. Use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to combine the feta, cream cheese, and 1/4 cup heavy cream until smooth.  Blend a bit of the whipped cream into the cheese mixture. This will lighten the mixture. Then, gently fold in the remaining cream. Do not over-mix or you will lose the fluffiness of whipped cream.

Refrigerate while you prepare the fruits.

*When whipping cream, it’s important to keep the cream and equipment cool. Place your whipping bowl and whisk in the freezer for a few minutes before beating the cream. Then, set the bowl in an ice bath as you beat the cream. The bowl with the whipped cream can stay in the ice bath while you blend the cheese.

To prepare the watermelon, cut the heart from the rind. Then, cut the watermelon into your desired shapes. Small cubes or tiles work well. You can also use a cookie cutter to create circle or star shaped tiles.

Use a melon baller to remove a portion of the cubes.

I’m sure you can find a use for the leftover watermelon scraps.

This is curious...

Satisfied Watermelon Face

Spoon the mousse into a pastry bag and pipe it onto your watermelon and figs. To create a makeshift pastry bag, cut off the corner of a ziploc bag. Insert your pastry tip. Fill the bag with the mousse and pipe it into your fruit. The mousse would also be delicious on vegetables, crackers, bread.

Ziploc Pastry Bag

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