Mel­ons have their place in sa­vory meals for sum­mer

Wa­ter­melon, can­taloupe and hon­ey­dew are sweet sta­ples of the sea­son

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Paul Stephen STAFF WRITER

Hot Texas sum­mers and wa­ter­melon were just made for each other. Same goes for can­taloupe and hon­ey­dew. Area markets will be stocked with per­fectly ripe spec­i­mens of all three through the sea­son.

But look out, fruit salad. This trin­ity has been show­ing its sa­vory side lately.

De­spite their pro­nounced sweet­ness, mel­ons are ver­sa­tile play­ers in the kitchen. Tech­ni­cally mem­bers of the Cu­cur­bitaceae fam­ily, wa­ter­melon, can­taloupe and hon­ey­dew are rel­a­tives of other gourds and squashes in­clud­ing pump­kins, zuc­chini, cu­cum­bers and more. As such, they all have a cer­tain veg­e­tal taste and tex­ture lin­ger­ing be­hind their bold, fruity fla­vor.

On restau­rant menus in San An­to­nio, one can find wa­ter­melon in an arugula and pro­sciutto salad at Stella Pub­lic House and can­taloupe tossed with ji­cama, cu­cum­ber, tomato and pow­dered gua­jillo chiles at The Frutería-Botanero. Hon­ey­dew even snuck into a course at the pro­gres­sive Mex­i­can restau­rant Mixtli last year, part­nered with lobster and av­o­cado.

But you don’t need a toque and a culi­nary de­gree to get in on the ac­tion at home.

This week we’ve whipped up six dishes — two each for wa­ter­melon, can­taloupe and hon­ey­dew — that cap­i­tal­ize on their re­spec­tive sa­vory virtues.

Some will feel quite fa­mil­iar. We’ve prob­a­bly all had can­taloupe paired with a cured ham of some sort. Our ver­sion adds a quick char on the grill and a splash of pars­ley-in­fused oil. An­other might seem com­pletely alien: a new take on carne guisada that in­cludes wa­ter­melon rind in the hearty beef stew.

Oth­ers, like a pe­tite stack of wa­ter­melon rounds lay­ered with an herby shrimp salad, smartly pair the nat­u­ral sweet­ness of both the fruit and seafood.

The carne guisada aside, these are largely dishes that can be pre­pared with­out spend­ing more than a few min­utes at the stove or grill and with in­gre­di­ents avail­able in most gro­cery stores — just the ticket as the ther­mome­ter con­tin­ues to linger just south of triple-digit ter­ri­tory. Now how sweet is that?

Paul Stephen / Staff

Pho­tos by Paul Stephen / Staff

Wheat Berry Salad with Hon­ey­dew, Cu­cum­bers and Feta Cheese

Wa­ter­melon.org

This twist on carne guisada in­cludes wa­ter­melon rind.

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