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ONLINE EXTRA -- WONDERFUL WATERMELON . . . Blackened Watermelon Salad . . . Watermelon Mango Margarita . . . Lime Cups Filled with Watermelon Granita, etc.

Blackened Watermelon Salad 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar About 4 pounds watermelon, peel on 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon blackened seasoning mix About 1 tablespoon olive oil 6 cups mixed salad greens 1/4 cup spiced or sweetened pecans, roughly chopped...

Blackened Watermelon Salad

½ cup balsamic vinegar

About 4 pounds watermelon, peel on

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon blackened seasoning mix

About 1 tablespoon olive oil

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6 cups mixed salad greens

¼ cup spiced or sweetened pecans, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

2 cups (about 4 ounces) sugar snap peas, blanched if desired

¼ cup Watermelon Vinaigrette or to taste (recipe follows)

Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cut the watermelon into 12 2-inch squares ¾ of an inch thick. Discard the rind and reserve any excess flesh for Watermelon Vinaigrette. Dust one face of each square with blackened seasoning mix. Set squares, dusted side up, on a sheet pan lined with parchment.

Coat the bottom of a large, flat-bottom saute pan with oil. Heat over high heat until pan is very hot. Working in batches, place watermelon squares, seasoned side down, in the pan and cook for about 20 seconds without moving them. The seasoned face should have an almost-black color when removed; if not, return to the heat for a few seconds. Remove carefully, avoiding crushing the watermelon if using tongs. Return to tray, seasoned side up, and let cool.

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Drizzle balsamic reduction evenly among 4 serving plates or bowls, Place watermelon, blackened side up, on balsamic reduction. In a mixing bowl, combine greens, pecans, feta and peas; toss lightly with about ¼ cup Watermelon Vinaigrette. Arrange the mixed greens alongside the watermelon and serve.

Yield: Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (without vinaigrette): 235 calories, 10 grams fat ( 2 grams saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams sugar, 5 grams fiber, 290 milligrams sodium, 70 milligrams calcium.

Note: Store-bought seasoning can be used, but be sure to get a product labeled blackened or blackening seasoning as opposed to Cajun seasoning. To make the seasoning from scratch, mix 1 cup paprika with 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, dried mustard and dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon each of ground red (cayenne) pepper and freshly ground black pepper.

Watermelon Vinaigrette

1 cup peeled and seeded watermelon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

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Kosher or sea salt

¾ cup olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Place watermelon, vinegar, honey and salt and pepper to taste in a blender; blend until smooth.

Slowly pour in olive oil through the hole in the cap, blending until emulsified. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary. If not using immediately, stir or shake in a container to recombine.

Yield: About 1¼ cups

Approximate nutritional analysis per tablespoon: 80 calories, 8 grams fat (1 grams saturated), no cholesterol, no protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram sugar, no fiber, no sodium, no calcium.

Watermelon Mango Margarita

2 cups chopped seedless watermelon

1 ripe mango

Juice from 2 fresh limes

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon triple sec

2 jiggers tequila

2 cups ice

Yield: Serves 2.

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 271 calories, 1 gram fat, 40 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, no cholesterol, 6 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 5 percent of calories from fat.

Watermelon with Parmesan and Mint

4-pound piece of watermelon

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated with a rasp (¾ cup)

1½ tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Cut watermelon lengthwise into narrow wedges about 1½ inches wide, then cut wedges crosswise into ¾-inch-thick slices (They will be tall and pointed.). Trim rind to enable slices to stand upright.

Just before serving, stir together pepper and salt and sprinkle mixture over slices. Stir together cheese and chopped mint and sprinkle slices again.

Yield: Serves 12 as hors d'oeuvre.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 112 calories, 6 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 398 milligrams sodium, trace fiber, 48 percent of calories from fat.

Lime Cups Filled with Watermelon Granita

12 limes

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

4 cups watermelon cubes

½ cup currants or raisins

To make lime cups, cut limes in half lengthwise. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, use a sharp knife to cut around the pulp of each half, leaving peel intact. Scoop out pulp, using spoon to loosen pulp from peel, and reserve 2 tablespoons lime juice for granita; discard the pulp.

For granita, stir together sugar and water in small saucepan; heat to boiling. Cool slightly.

Place watermelon in container of food processor; pulse to puree watermelon. Place a colander over a bowl and pour the pureed watermelon into the colander to strain, forcing watermelon through with back of spoon, if needed.

Stir reserved lime juice and cooled sugar mixture into pureed watermelon and pour mixture into a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan; freeze until firm. After about 4 hours, take pan from freezer and scrape the frozen watermelon mixture with a spoon to make granita. Stir in currants.. Mound granita in lime cups and serve, if desired, on a bed of crushed ice.

Yield: Serves 12.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 119 calories, 1 gram fat, 31 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 4 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 4 percent of calories from fat.

Watermelon, Arugula and Toasted Almond Salad

1 small seedless watermelon, about 6 pounds

Sea salt to taste

½ cup olive oil, divided

¼ cup white or dark balsamic or cider vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 cups loosely packed arugula leaves or favorite salad greens

½ cup slivered blanched almonds, lightly toasted

¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced

12 radishes, thinly sliced

1/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

To prepare the watermelon, remove a slice from both ends of the watermelon. Stand the watermelon upright on a cutting board. Using a large knife, slice the rind from the flesh working from the top to the bottom, in one long slice if possible. Repeat, cutting away all the rind. Cut the flesh into 2-inch-thick slices and set aside the rounded end cuts. Trim the slices into shapes that will fit on a serving platter. Reserve the center of the melon. Season each slice with salt and, using ¼ cup of the olive oil, brush one side of each slice.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, working in batches, place the watermelon slices, oil side down, on the hot skillet and leave for about 45 seconds or until heated. Remove slices, heated side up to a chilled plate.

Place the reserved center and the rounded end pieces in a sieve set over a bowl and smash with your hands or a whisk, forcing the juice into the bowl. Measure 1 cup of the juices. Drink or freeze the rest into ice cubes.

In a saucepan, combine the vinegar and watermelon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes, or until reduced to about ¼ cup.

Pour the reduced juice into a serving bowl and whisk in the remaining ¼ cup of oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the arugula, almonds, green onion and radishes and toss well. Gently mound the arugula salad over the melon slices. Sprinkle the top with crumbled feta and serve.

Yield: Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 238 calories, 64 percent of calories from fat, 17 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 18 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 121 milligrams sodium, 8 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Triple Melon Pops

1 teaspoon honey mixed with

½ teaspoon lime juice or water

8 mint leaves

1½ cups seedless cubed watermelon

1½ cups cubed honey dew melon

1½ cups cubed cantaloupe

3 tablespoons lime juice, divided

Have molds ready. Brush or dip the mint leaves in the honey-lime mixture and place the leaves on the inner sides and toward the top of each mold. Press into place. Place in the freezer until the mint leaves are set and frozen, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender puree each melon separately. Add 1 tablespoon lime juice to each melon mixture.

To layer, fill the molds 1/3 of the way with the honey dew melon mixture. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove and fill another 1/3 of the mold with the watermelon mixture; freeze 30 minutes. Finish with the cantaloupe mixture and attach the sticks to the mold. Partially freezing helps so the layers don't run together. Freeze until solid. To serve, run warm water over the mold to unmold the pops.

Yield: Serves 8.

Approximate nutritional analysis per pop: 34 calories, no calories from fat, no fat, 9 grams carbohydrates, no protein, 12 milligrams sodium, no cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

Watermelon-Blueberry Lime Pops

3 ¾ cups coarsely chopped seedless watermelon

¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup fresh blueberries

In a blender or food processor, puree watermelon, lime juice and sugar to taste until smooth.

Divide blueberries among freezer-pop molds. Top with the watermelon mixture. Insert the sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Dip the molds briefly in hot water before unmolding the pops.

Yield: Serves 10.

Approximate nutritional analysis per pop: 29 calorie, no calories from fat, no fat, 8 grams carbohydrates, no protein, 1 milligram sodium, no cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

Watermelon Cooler

6 leaves mint

½ ounce lemon juice

1 heaping teaspoon powdered sugar

Lemonade ice cubes

4 ounces freshly juiced watermelon

2 ounces lemon-lime soda

Watermelon wedge

In the bottom of a tall glass, muddle the mint, lemon juice and sugar. Fill with lemonade ice cubes, add watermelon juice and top with lemon-lime soda. Garnish with a watermelon wedge.

Yield: Serves 1.

Watermelon with Mint, Lime and Feta

½ medium watermelon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

4 ounces mild feta cheese, crumbled

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Using a melon baller, scoop the flesh of the watermelon from the shell. (Or scoop out flesh with a large spoon and cut it into bite-size pieces.) In a large bowl, gently toss the watermelon, mint and feta with the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return mixture to the watermelon shell and serve.

Yield: Serves 8.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 129 calories, 4 grams fat, 21 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 164 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 28 percent of calories from fat.

Watermelon Gin Fizzies

5 cups diced watermelon

6 ounces gin

8 tablespoons fresh lime juice

About 1 1/3 cups ginger ale

Garnish: lime wedges or slices

Puree watermelon in blender (this will take some coaxing and patience -- stop machine as needed and stir contents).

Place puree in 4 large, ice-filled glasses. To each glass, add 1½ ounces gin, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice and about 1/3 cup ginger ale. Stir.

Garnish with lime wedges or slices.

Yield: 4 cocktails.

Approximate nutritional analysis per cocktail with gin: 232 calories, less than 3 percent of calories from fat, 1.2 grams protein, 56.7 grams carbohydrates, 0.1 grams fat (no saturated), no cholesterol, 47 milligrams sodium, 0.8 grams fiber

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