In Watermelon Sugar
Did you know that watermelon is Oklahoma’s official state vegetable? Neither did I. Honestly, and I can’t imagine that I’m alone on this, I didn’t event know that it is considered a vegetable. Apparently since the watermelon is a member of the cucumber family, it’s “technically” a vegetable. But in many botanical circles, this debate continues. The previous reigning fruit in the Sooner State was the beloved strawberry. But in 2007 the melon was anointed when a measure was introduced by House Representative Joe Dorman of Rush Springs. It just so happens that Rush Springs is the site of an annual watermelon festival. Quite the coincidence, right? If only Stillwell, strawberry capital of Oklahoma, had such a strong lobbying presence.
When summer hits, giant bins if watermelon begin showing up outside markets and along the road, filled to the brim with bright green melons. Seedless? Mini? The watermelons of the 21st century are varied and unique. Some people like it plain, others with a dash of salt. What about grilled watermelon? Chilled watermelon soup? Like some culinary carpenter, I always wanted to be able to carve a small ocean scene into the bright red flesh, but alas my skills are best used elsewhere.
Every once in a while I find myself consumed with one type of a fruit. Last summer it was raspberry plums, and while I am anxiously awaiting their return, right now I am all about watermelon. Remember those watermelon-flavored Jolly Rancher candies? Of course, they taste nothing like the real thing, but they certainly prep the palate. Aside from the classic cut and cube method, I love to blend the watermelon to a smooth puree and add soda water for a perfect fizzy treat. Not to brag, but the salsa below might be the most delicious I’ve ever eaten. But you’ll just have to make it, and see/taste for yourself. Watermelon may or may not be a fruit, but I think we can all agree it should be savored all summer long.
Watermelon Peach Salsa
• 5 Campari Tomatoes
• 2 cloves of garlic
• Juice of 2 limes plus zest of
• 1/2 bunch of cilantro
• 2 peaches diced
• 1 1/2 cups diced watermelon
• 1/2 red onion diced finely
• 1 chipotle pepper plus 1 Tbsp of sauce (I like to use the canned chilis)
Blend the tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, stems, leaves, lime juice, lime zest, chipotle pepper and sauce. Blend until you have a chunky pulp. Put mixture in bowl. Add watermelon, peaches, onions, salt and pepper to taste. Mix all together. Let it sit for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
• 1 qt of Rainbow Sherbet
• 1 cup of watermelon
• 6 oz of club soda
• Zest of 1 lime
• 6 strawberries, hulled
Mix everything in blender until smooth. If you have popsicle molds use these. If not, use Dixie Cups and wooden sticks. Freeze until solid. If you can’t wait for your tasty treat, drink as smoothies. They are great either way!