Watermelon typically peaks from May through August, but this year, excellent specimens of the fruit are still available all over the city. We're at the end of the season, though: Farmers' markets are beginning to wind down, and watermelon is currently flooding roadside stands and grocery stores for the last time before it's replaced by imports until next year.
In celebration, I cooked up a watermelon-centered feast this weekend. If you'd like to embrace the end of the season, too, here are three recipes:
WATERMELON, MINT AND FETA SALAD
1/2 of a medium-size watermelon, seeds removed and chopped into bite-size chunks 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped 1/4 cup red onion, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 cup crumbled feta 1/4 cup oil Juice from 1/2 lemon 2 tablespoons salt
1. Combine watermelon, mint, red onion and feta in large bowl 2. Add salt, oil and lemon just before serving and toss (if you salt too early, it'll pull all the juice from the watermelon and you'll need to drain it)
WATERMELON BURGER WITH PICKLED RED ONIONS (adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman)
For the burgers:
1/2 of a medium-size watermelon 1/4 cup olive oil 1 tablespoon red onion, peeled and minced 2 balls fresh mozzarella, sliced Salt to taste Hamburger buns
To pickle the red onions:
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced Enough white vinegar to cover the onion slices; cut with water if you want to dilute the acidity (I used a 2 parts vinegar, 1 part water ratio) 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Slice the red onion, then submerge in vinegar and salt while you prepare the burgers. 2. Start the grill and set to medium-high heat. 3. Cut the watermelon into inch-thick slices. Remove rind and cut pieces roughly the size of a burger patty. Remove seeds. 4. Combine pickled onions, olive oil and a little salt. Brush each slice of watermelon with the mixture. 5. Grill watermelon slices for about five minutes per side, adding salt when you flip. The surface will caramelize, and you want the watermelon to be slightly dried out. Add a slice of cheese and another sprinkle of salt to each slice and close the grill to melt the cheese. 6. Serve on toasted buns topped with pickles.
Note: You can also use regular pickles if you don't want to mess with the onions -- you just need something tart and salty to cut the sweetness of the watermelon.
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A few one-inch chunks of watermelon, seeds removed 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and sliced into three rings 1.5 ounce light rum 10 to 15 mint leaves 1/2 lime 1 tablespoons sugar (or 2 tablespoons. simple syrup) Club soda
1. Place watermelon, jalapeños, mint leaves, lime juice and sugar in a glass and muddle. 2. Add ice and rum. 3. Top with club soda and stir.