Few things say summer has arrived like a big slice of cold juicy melon.
My childhood was filled with lazy summer afternoons on the back porch with the neighborhood kids eating watermelon, juice dripping from ear to ear, giggling with joy as we spit the seeds high and far as we could. I wonder if I can still spit a seed like I could as a kid. I must find out.
Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melons; the beautiful colors and sweet taste of summer is in season from June to September. Look for ones without soft spots. It should be heavy for its size and should smell slightly sweet at the stem end.
Don’t you love it when something sold for as little as 20 cents per pound can be dressed up to take any occasion from everyday to elegant?
One of the simplest things to do with melon is make infused water. Mint and melon are a lovely pairing, so refreshing. Just add some melon and a few sprigs of mint to chilled water and let it set for a few hours or overnight. I like to have infused water to offer guests. It’s just a lovely way to say, “I’ve been expecting you”. Add a slice of lime and a splash of club soda just before serving for a little fizz.
Want an addictive sweet and salty appetizer? Serve melon with ham. Traditionally you’d see cantaloupe with prosciutto but that can be rather expensive. Deli sliced ham and smoked turkey give that same sweet and savory contrast at a fraction of the cost. Serve melon topped with ham, secured with toothpicks.
If you like sweet with heat, try cantaloupe salsa.
Blend together — 2 tablespoons lime juice, ½ tablespoon honey, ¼ teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper. Add 2 cups diced cantaloupe, ¼ cup diced sweet or red onion, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Add minced jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, to taste. Stir to combine and chill. Serve with chips, over chicken or fish or with quesadillas.
Of course, there’s summer sangria. Add melon to chardonnay or your favorite sweet white wine, like moscato. I like to make a large pitcher to which I add a bottle of vino, melon balls, a few sprigs of fresh basil, sparkling water and a healthy shot (or three) of brandy. It’s like summer in a glass.
Since we’re having cocktails, how about some melon infused vodka? Simply put the fruit in a clean jar and top off with vodka. Let it set for at least three days, the longer the better. This makes an excellent martini with a twist of lime or an Old Fashioned with a splash of sweet and sour. My fave is a Melon Mule which is melon vodka with ginger ale and lime juice over ice. Don’t throw away the infused fruit!
You can puree the fruit into a Slurpee with a kick.
As you plan your ‘Summer Has Arrived” party be sure to put melon on your shopping list. Versatile and inexpensive, frugal and fabulous, now that’s using your melon.
Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Frugal food finds contributed by Patti Diamond, author of Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!, www.divasonadime.com