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Watermelon offers options on fruit’s use

Foodie friends and I are firm believers in the hostess/host gifts. Nothing huge, just a nice “something” that says “thanks for inviting me over.”

Recently, however, after calling my buddies and their spouses to come over for an impromptu dinner, three people showed up with watermelons. Yeah, that was my first thought, too: What the heck am I going to do with three watermelons?

One watermelon does offer a lot of options for what to do with all that fruit. Watermelon season runs from May to September. The watermelon isn’t just another pretty fruit in the produce section; it can actually be used in pretty much the same way you do a tomato.

There are more than 500 varieties of watermelon.Watermelons are not just the juicy red/pink color we all know and crave. There are also sweet and wonderful white, pink, yellow and orange watermelons available both with and without seeds. Just remember, the color and size don’t always determine the sweetness of your melon and the ones called seedless aren’t really seedless; they typically contain teeny tiny, white seeds.

OK, that’s more watermelon info than you’ll probably ever want or need, on to the recipes.

Watermelon Feta Salad

8 cups shredded romaine and red leaf lettuce

4 cupswatermelon, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large salad bowl combine the lettuce, watermelon, onion and feta. Gently toss to combine. This can be made up 2 to 3 hours in advance. When you’re ready to serve, drizzle the olive oil, pepper and salt over the top and toss to coat. Serves 8.

Watermelon Caprese

1/4 cup olive oil

2 large sweet onions thinly sliced

1/2 cup sweet white wine

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar

3/4 to 1 pound block of mozzarella cheese (cut into 16 slices)

24 slices seedless watermelon (cut to match the size of the cheese slices)

1 cup fresh basil leaves

In a large skillet sauté the onion in the olive oil. After about 3 or 4 minutes, add the wine and sugar. Continue cooking, stirring until the onions start to turn golden, then reduce the heat to a simmer; cover and let cook and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the balsamic vinegar; cook for 2 minutes then remove the mixture from the heat – let cool to room temperature. You will need 8 salad plates with three pieces of watermelon and two pieces of cheese for each salad. Starting with a piece of watermelon, alternate a slice of cheese and watermelon in a stack. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the onion mixture over watermelon stack. Decorate with the basil leaves. Serves 8.

Watermelon and Mango Salsa

Great with homemade cinnamon tortilla chips* or over grilled chicken or fish.

2 cups seeded watermelon chunks, cut into bite-sized

1 1/2 cups mango, chopped

1/4 to 1/3 cup minced red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1 small jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped (use a bell pepper if you don’t want heat)

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a glass bowl combine all the ingredients and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Makes 4 cups.

*Take 4 or 5 flour tortillas, brush them with butter or margarine, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, cut it into 8 triangles and bake at 350 degrees until golden.

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at eztlog@gmail.com or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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