Last week I had dinner at Nougatine, a small Manhattan restaurant owned by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The “amuse bouche” was a shot of watermelon juice with basil seeds and a spoonful of shrimp ceviche.
Although watermelons are available year-round as imports, domestic versions are at their peak from mid-June to late August. Many people purchase whole melons in the naïve belief that they can consume limitless quantities of this fruit. After all, it’s 92% water and has only 46 calories a cup.
For those of you who can’t figure out what to do with all of your melon, I suggest using it as a vessel or platform from which to serve a fruit salad. Here are some ideas from the web – the watermelon-as-carriage which is perfect for a baby shower.
Fruit salads are one of the most popular dishes at the brunches I host – they are colorful, fresh and fat-free. When served immediately they are delicious, but there is nothing worse than discolored fruit swimming in juice run-off. This alternate way to serve fruit provides more visual appeal and leaves you with firmer leftovers. Select the fruit carefully. Avoid those that are soft (i.e. kiwi or raspberries), discolor quickly (i.e. apples or bananas) or that don’t display well (i.e. orange slices).
4 or 5 types of fruit such as: pineapple, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, red or green grapes, strawberries, watermelon, mango or any other firm colorful fruit
half a watermelon (as base)
1. Cut each type of fruit into 1 inch cubes. You can cut up fruit a day in advance and store in the fridge covered in saran wrap.
2. Select the order in which fruit will be displayed. Experiment with several patterns to make sure that fruits of a similar color are not adjacent (such as watermelon and strawberries) and that the combination is visually pleasing. Some fruit is more firm than others, so use a firm fruit at the bottom of the skewer to prevent sliding during the display period.
3. Create all skewers with the same pattern and lay flat on a tray. These can be kept for several hours in a fridge, loosely covered with saran wrap.
4. Set half a watermelon on a large tray, leaving the watermelon flesh intact. You can eat it after it is no longer a display item.
5. Using one of the skewers, poke holes in the watermelon rind in a series of rows. To assemble, insert fruit skewers into these holes.