I think my husband has a watermelon problem. My concern arose in May, when he came home from the store with a basketball-sized melon with pastel chartreuse rind. The flesh, if you squeezed your eyes and wished a whole lot, was nearly red: really, it was the color of an anemic salmon. It tasted wet more than sweet; at least it was crisp. He ate the whole thing.
By the time decent watermelon was available in the market, the three seedlings he planted were growing daily. You could see the change in size from one day to the next. But he couldn’t wait an entire day; he went out to his garden every few hours to check on them. I think he may have been petting the vines, but I didn’t look too closely. There are some things a wife is better off not knowing.
The extent of his watermelon issue hit me the day I walked into the kitchen and saw three twelve to fifteen pound watermelons on the counter. Three people currently live in this house and we weren’t planning a party. I gently asked him what he was planning on doing with all the watermelon. “We’ll eat it.” I didn’t know who to call; his brother? His best friend? Is there an organization for this?
As it has done so many times, work saved us. There was the watermelon-strawberry slushy he developed for an Oxmoor House Cooking Light book, the Watermelon, Arugula and Herbed Feta Salad we created for PotsandPans.com, and the simple gem pictured above which was one of three watermelon dishes I developed for my weekly Newsday column. We were starting to make a dent in our stockpile. Or so I thought, until I saw this, hidden on a stool tucked under the kitchen counter:
Am I enabling him because I love the sweet-salty combination of watermelon and feta? Perhaps. At the risk of enticing you to travel the sad path my beloved has taken, I offer you this recipe for one of my favorite summertime treats.
Watermelon, Feta, Mint and Basil Salad
1 3-pound seedless watermelon, rind removed and cut in 1-inch cubes (4 cups)
1/4 cup whole mint leaves
1/4 cup whole basil leaves
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces feta, diced (about 1 cup)
1. Combine the watermelon, mint and basil in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together the parsley, lime juice, raspberry vinegar, salt, and oil. Gently stir in the feta; toss with the watermelon.
Makes 4 servings (depending…)
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 146 calories, 6 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 645 mg sodium
How to choose a watermelon: People swear by many methods: thunking-knocking-slapping, choosing a melon that feels heavy for its size, or by the strength of the aroma of of “watermelon perfume” at the stem end. In addition to your favorite method– and I’d love to hear it!– I suggest you look for a darker “field spot”: the yellowish area of the rind that indicates the melon was allowed to ripen longer in the field.