Robin Anish | The table is set: Why not hold a watermelon soiree?


June is soon to be a memory; the kids are out of school; the weather is warm and sunny; lifeguards are at their lookouts on local beaches; Tanglewood is in season and weekends are for tag sales, farmers markets and barbecuing. Bring on the watermelon ... it must be summer!

Watermelon is the perfect summer fruit. Sweet, juicy, drippy and messy, watermelon is fun to eat and its 92 percent water content keeps us well hydrated in the heat of summer.

From a culinary point of few, watermelon has generally been one dimensional. Slice and eat. If that's all there is to watermelon, then my column would be complete. However, watermelon is trending, resulting in some pretty fantastic ways to prepare and bring to the table our favorite summer treat. Grilled, tossed, blended, watermelon is being served in savory salads, main dishes, appetizers, as well as desserts and cocktails.

It is surprising how many flavors compliment watermelon. My mother always put salt on her watermelon. A great contrast of flavors that actually makes the watermelon taste sweeter. So, how about inviting friends to a watermelon soiree to sample some flavorful combinations? It makes for an easy and fun way to entertain.

Start with a big platter of seedless watermelon cut into small wedges or sticks leaving the rind on for easy handling. Serve with a variety of the following for sprinkling, drizzling or dipping:

• Kosher salt or sample some of the many gourmet varieties available

• Sriracha Sauce

• Olive oil, salt and pepper

• Chili lime spice: Combine 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, grated zest of 1 lime

• 1 cup hot pepper jelly melted with 1 tablespoon each of tequila and water, cooled

• 1 cup balsamic vinegar simmered with 1 tablespoon sugar until reduced by half, cooled

• Sweet bacon crumble: Eight slices crisp cooked bacon, well drained. When cool, blend with 1 cup brown sugar in food processor until bacon is finely minced.

• Honey lime & mint drizzle: Combine 3/4 cup honey with zest and juice of one lime and 2 tablespoons of finely sliced fresh mint.

• Fresh strawberry drizzle: Simmer 1 pint strawberries, sliced with 1/3 cup sugar until berries are soft; cool and puree in blender until smooth

• Rum whipped cream & toasted coconut: Whip 1 cup cold heavy cream with 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon dark rum. Toast desired amount of coconut on the stove top in a pan on medium heat stirring until golden. Cool and serve along side rum whipped cream.

• Citrus sugar: Blend 1 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon each of lemon, lime and orange zest in a food processor until zest is finely minced.

• Pixi Sticks for sprinkling ... the kids will love this!


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