The Foodie

watermelon, watermelons

What’s Fresh in Mid-August: Watermelon

August 14, 2009
by findingDulcinea Staff
Watermelon is a summertime staple, the perfect refreshing treat after a long, hot day in the sun. In mid-August you'll find watermelon at its juiciest. Discover new ways to prepare this seasonal favorite.

Watermelon: The Surprise Vegetable

Long ago, watermelon was cultivated in the Kalahari Desert to provide people living in the arid climate with a source of water. During the Civil War, soldiers boiled it down to create sugar and molasses. Today, the juicy red fruit is a summer staple and Americans happily consume about 3 billion pounds of it annually. But according to Produce Oasis, watermelon is actually a vegetable, “[c]ousin to the cucumber and kin to the gourd.”

Watermelon, an indulgence as sweet as ice cream, is definitely the wiser choice when selecting a summertime treat. It contains heart-healthy vitamins A, B6 and C, and none of the fat found in a coneful of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Despite having a high water content, it also packs in more lycopene per serving than any other fruit or vegetable, including tomatoes. The National Watermelon Promotion Board explains that lycopene acts as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from hazardous free radicals. Recent studies indicate that watermelon may also be the next Viagra.

Halloumi, a salty, firm cheese made from sheep and goat's milk, pairs beautifully with juicy watermelon. Simply grill a thick slice of halloumi until the skin blisters, toss with diced watermelon and fresh mint, and serve. The cheese, which tastes like a cross between feta and mozzarella, softens but maintains its firmness when warmed, so it won’t melt through grill racks. Serious Eats calls the salad “cool and warm, sweet and salty, spicy and minty.”

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