Food, Fun, and Fireworks
It’s not just any ol’ parade, it’s our parade. Antique tractors, floats, and firetrucks circle the Plaza kicking off America’s birthday celebration. A silly, irreverent, and patriotic river of citizens in trucks, wheelbarrows, and outlandish marching regalia celebrates the day. Hats off as our flag passes by…it’s the Fourth of July!
Few foods conjure up memories of 4th of July celebrations like watermelon. Not quite as all-American as apple pie, Americans do consume more watermelon than anyone else. Along with the steady heat, you know its summertime when the grocers place front and center the huge bins brimming with watermelon. Biting into a juicy and sweet watermelon has to be one of summer's greatest pleasures. Made up of over ninety per cent water, it's the ultimate tasty thirst quencher. Low in calories, it's loaded with vitamins A, B6, C and potassium and is high in lycopene, a proven powerful antioxidant. That doesn't matter much to my kids, though; when they were little, they loved watermelon for the interactive eating and spitting component. Oh, and it tastes delicious, too. I love serving up the traditional ripe wedge speckled with lots of black seeds, however; the seedless variety is really convenient when using the melon as an ingredient in dishes. (To be clear, seedless these watermelon are not. White, soft and translucent seeds are there, they just haven’t matured yet.)
A perfectly ripe watermelon should be firm to the touch and feel heavy with a mottled deep green skin. Because the melon grows on the ground it will have a light patch on its underside where it was laying unexposed to the sun. Look for a buttery yellow spot indicating ripeness. Store whole watermelon at room temperature for up to ten days or sliced and sealed in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Tip: watermelon tastes best ice-cold but has more nutrients when stored at room temperature. Keep it on the counter until you're ready to serve it, and then chill the slices just before eating.
And the spittin' contest is on!
Just like the tomato, this fruit marries beautifully with savory flavors. It's a classic to combine the distinct flavor of watermelon with the saltiness of feta cheese as in this recipe here.
Watermelon, Arugula, and Pine Nut Salad
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups cubed watermelon, rind discarded
12 ounces arugula
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, and oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, arugula, pine nuts, and cheese. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette. Re-season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Put a twist on the traditional watermelon wedge with this outrageous salsa. Delicious as a side dish, it's an incredible accompaniment to grilled fish.
Makes about 3 cups
3 pounds seedless watermelon, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 small red onion, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined, and minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
salt, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss together well. Season with salt, to taste. Let stand for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Serve at room temperature.