Nothing screams “summer” louder than hot pink, ice cold, crisp, dripping sticky sweet watermelon.
Except maybe my four-year-old niece screaming “SUMMER!!!”
Ok, but that messes up my point, so…
Back to watermelon!
There are a lot of quintessential summer foods — “summer” because it’s when they’re in season. Or “summer” because they’re refreshing in the heat. Or “summer” because they’re cooked on a grill outside. For whatever reason, they’re just summer. They just are.
But these quintessential summer foods are not only summer. They are, in fact, still available during the other less, um, summery seasons. They won’t be good, they may not seem right, but you can boil a hotdog on the stovetop for a football party in September. You can deep fry County Fair funnel cakes at home in November, and you know there are (crazy) people who shovel a path through the snow to the their Big Green Eggs in the deep, dark, dead of winter to grill their Christmas roasts. Even those peachy, plummy summer stone fruits and all manner of berries? They can be found year round in cans, as preserves, or frozen. I mean, if you wanted to, you could bake a Berry Pie in January with frozen blueberries.
I know you wouldn’t (you wouldn’t, right, would you?!)
But you could if you wanted to.
These foods then, don’t scream summer, but are a “summer” with an indoor voice. “Summer” in a baby blue gingham-checked monokini. Summer, sitting politely in the shade of a patio umbrella next to the pool.
(Do people still wear monokinis?)
Watermelon, though, is the August climax. It shrieks “SUMMER!” while streaking through the grass buck nekkid — not naked, but nekkid — in the full frontal sunshine, leaping into the deep-end with a splashy flashy cannonball finale.
Because it’s summer.
And I’m drinking watermelon because it’s refreshing.
And I’m drizzling watermelon vinaigrette on grilled watermelon salad.
And eating more watermelon because it’s summer.
It just is.
And summer, it seems, is slipping away.
Watermelon Juice Recipe
Cut watermelon, remove rind, and dice. Puree watermelon in blender. You may need to add a few tablespoons of sparkling water to get the blender going.
Add fresh lime juice to taste.
I have tried this with leaves of fresh mint added to the food processor with the watermelon, but the combination just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t really love the flavor of mint to begin with in anything but toothpaste and chewing gum, and I can’t help but always feel like I have little neon green bits of mint between my teeth after drinking it.
I just used the mint as a garnish. For photos.
By the way, this is the perfect mixer for ice cold vodka.
Watermelon Vinaigrette Recipe
The original recipe by Suzanne Goin included a complete Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese onto which the vinaigrette is drizzled. The salad is nothing more complicated than tossing together sliced tomatoes, watermelon, crumbled feta cheese, sliced shallots, and shredded mint.
The vinaigrette works, of course, with just about any combination of summer produce, especially strong/bitter greens.
adapted from Suzanne Goin
makes about 1½ cups
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 cups watermelon juice
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
Place the watermelon juice in a saucepan and reduce over high heat until you have ¼ cup. It took about 40 minutes for. Cool.
Combine the vinegars, watermelon juice reduction, salt, and pepper in bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.