This coming weekend, I am headed to Lisbon Falls for the Moxie Festival Recipe Contest. As many of you will recall, I took home first place in the savory division last year with my Moxie hot wings. This year, however, instead of competing, my voracious pregnant-lady appetite and I are sitting on the jury. It had been my intention, originally, to create a few new Moxie recipes for this week’s blog, but another taste of summer, this one slightly more universal than Moxie, took hold of my interest.
Watermelon. I can’t recall a summer going by that I haven’t relished the taste of ice cold, juicy watermelon on a hot summer day at least once, and I think the same goes for most of us. Though most varieties don’t grow terribly well in Maine, it has nonetheless been a summer staple for many, for as long as we can remember. This year, instead of just slicing it, cubing it, and putting it in the fridge to snack on here and there, I decided to see what I could create from it.
It was also the perfect excuse to make pickled watermelon rind, which was long a favorite of my father’s, and which I have loved for quite some time.They’re fairly expensive to buy at the grocery store, being a specialty item, but they’re remarkably cheap to make, and easy as well. If you like sweet pickles, you will probably enjoy them too. Because I didn’t want to screw this up, and I know pickles can be kind of tricky, I adapted a recipe from Kitchen Riffs, which was in turn adapted from David Chang, chef and founder of the Momofuku restaurant group. I found that I had to double most of the brine ingredients, which is reflected in my adaptation.
Spicy Watermelon Caprese Salad
- 3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
- 1 8-ounce container mozzarella pearls
- 1 handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sriracha
- 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
- kosher salt
In a bowl, combine watermelon, mozzarella and basil leaves, Toss to distribute. In a squeeze bottle or other lidded plastic container, combine remaining ingredients, except salt. Shake well until combined, and dress salad as generously as desired. Sprinkle lightly with salt before serving.
Sweet and Spicy Quick-Pickled Watermelon Rind
- rind from 1/2 of an average-sized watermelon
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups vinegar
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 star anise
- 1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Remove watermelon flesh from rind and peel tough green skin away. Cut rind into 1-inch cubes. In a large saucepan, bring to a boil the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and seasonings. Add rind and return to a boil for one minute, then turn off heat and allow to cool for one hour. Transfer into two quart jars, and add brine to cover. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.
Minted Lime Gelatin with Watermelon
- 3 cups watermelon, cubed
- 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups water (divided)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1 handful mint leaves
In a food processor, pulse mint leaves with lime juice until leaves are well-chopped. Add one cup water and set aside. In a saucepan, bring to a boil one cup water and one cup sugar; when sugar has dissolved, whisk in gelatin, one envelope at a time, careful to combine well. Remove from heat and whisk in the mint and lime juice mixture. Allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. Divide watermelon cubes among six small glasses; I made my cubes extra small. Using a strainer, pour gelatin mixture over watermelon in each glass. Refrigerate until firm, or overnight, before serving.
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