Don’t you love it when old (not in age or spirit – just in the fact we’ve known them since high school!) friends drop in to visit?
This past weekend we had a lovely unplanned barbecue with Don and Shirley (actually, Raymond and Don have been friends since elementary school – and got into lots of escapades together – my lips are sealed) and their absolutely adorable and smiley little grandson. There was much laughter and storytelling and catching-up to do. It feels so good when the years in between just drop away and you are with friends.
And to add some icing to the cake, Shirley walked in carrying a beautiful carved watermelon shell holding . . . watermelon salsa.
Watermelon + Salsa. I would never have thought to put those two words together, but woweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It was a hit. We attacked it like pyrhanas, and good thing we did, because the leftovers that we packed away in the fridge were devoured by the resident teenager before we could get another taste, so I had to go ahead and make a batch for us again the next day, while the memory of it was still fresh on my taste buds.
There’s enough of our gorgeous summer left that you might want to make this refreshing and stunning dish for your next get-together . . . or maybe just for yourselves.
I even served the watermelon salsa as a side salad to our grilled fish the other night, and it was so light and zesty – the perfect accompaniment.
The fancy bowl is optional, but makes it even more fun to eat!
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Kitchen Frau Notes: The size of the watermelon doesn’t have to be exact here. The flavour would still be the same with a little more or less of the chopped fruit – you can always add a squirt more or less of lime juice. I used half of about a 12 lb/5.5kg watermelon.
Shirley said she didn’t have fresh garlic, so she used garlic salt. You could substitute the garlic and the salt in the recipe for 1 teaspoon garlic salt. She sprinkled half of it into the scooped out shell before adding back the salsa, and the other half was mixed into the salsa.
The onion was also my addition, but I think it added a nice counterpart to the sweetness and balanced out the garlic flavours. You can omit it if you like.
I used the jalapeno without the seeds, for a mild salsa with just a little kick. If you want a spicier salsa, add a few of the seeds (or all of them) to the mix.
Fresh Watermelon Salsa
- ½ of a medium-sized watermelon
- ¼ of a small onion, finely minced (about ¼ cup/60ml)
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 juicy limes
- 1 green pepper
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- taco chips or crackers to serve, or toasted pita triangles, or plain rice crackers
Cut the watermelon in half either the long way or the short way, to get either a round ‘bowl’ or a flatter, oval one. With a large metal spoon, scoop the flesh out of the watermelon half, leaving ¼ to ½ inch (1 cm) of the pink flesh attached to the rind for a colourful effect.
Carve triangles out of the cut edge to make a zig-zag border for the top of your watermelon ‘bowl’. Test how stable the watermelon shell is – if it needs it, trim a thin slice of peel off the rounded end so that it sits flat. Don’t trim off too much, or your bowl will leak. Set the watermelon ‘bowl’ upside-down on a plate to drain while you make the rest of the salsa.
Trim the watermelon flesh from the discarded triangles, and add it to the reserved scooped-out flesh.
Pick out any dark seeds from the watermelon. Working in small batches, chop the watermelon flesh into small, pea-sized pieces. This ends up being a drippy job as the watermelon releases its juices. Tilt the cutting board into the sink to drain off the liquid between batches. Place the chopped watermelon into a colander to drain. (Save the juice when it’s finished draining – add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a squirt of agave nectar or honey and serve it over ice as a refreshing drink. A shot of tequila turns it into a cocktail!)
The longer the watermelon drains, the better it is. Half hour is the minimun, but if you can plan for it to drain for an hour, that is better. Every now and then during draining, shake the colander to release more juice.
Chop the onion finely and place it into a large bowl. Add the garlic clove, either pressed, or finely minced. Finely grate the zest of both limes over the top, and squeeze on the lime juice. By doing this first and letting it sit for a while, the lime juice pickles the onions and garlic and takes the bite right out of them.
Chop the green pepper finely and put it on top of the macerating onions in the bowl, but don’t stir it in.
Remove the seeds and stem from the jalapeno, mince the flesh and add it to the bowl. Chop the cilantro leaves and add them, sprinkle with the salt.
Just before serving, add the drained chopped watermelon to the lime juice/vegetables and stir to combine all the ingredients. Spoon the salsa into the watermelon shell bowl.
You will probably only fit about half of the salsa into the shell. Refill the shell as needed (it won’t be too long).
Makes about 6 cups (1.5l) watermelon salsa or summer side salad.
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