Tag Archives: watermelon

Sweet, Spicy Watermelon Pickle

11 Jul

This is what I made with the watermelon rinds I had leftover from making the Watermelon Agua Fresca in my last post.

It’s a sweet spicy pickle perfect to serve as a relish on burgers, at barbeques or as part of a picnic lunch. It’s great with mature sharp cheeses like goat’s cheese, Manchego, Cheddar or Feta or with salty cured hams like Serrano and Parma, you could even serve it with a whole roast ham or gammon steak. It would also be a very welcome addition to any Indian meal.

It’s really simple to make but you do it over three days. Don’t let that put you off, you’re not working on it for three whole days or anything silly. You leave it covered in its syrup overnight in the fridge then take it out in the morning, drain it into a saucepan, bring the syrup to a boil and then pour it back over the watermelon. Then put it back in the fridge until the next morning and repeat the process once more.

The original recipe didn’t have any chilli in it but my chilli pepper plant has just started to produce some little green babies so I added a few whole ones to the pot with the whole spices. You’ve got to have a little heat in a pickle or what’s the point?

Watermelon Pickle Recipe

Makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2kg (4 pound) watermelon, quartered & sliced into 1 inch thick wedges/triangles
  • 1.75 litres (8 cups) water
  • 2 tbsp sea salt plus 2 tsp
  • 450 g (2 cups) sugar
  • 275 ml (1+1/4 cups) apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 3 whole green (or red) chillies

Cut the watermelon flesh from the rind leaving a thin layer of pink on the rind. Use the flesh to make agua fresca or watermelon feta & mint salad.  Cut off the dark green part of the rind and discard it. Then cut the rind into 1 inch pieces.

Bring the water and 2 tbsp salt to a boil in a large saucepan then add the rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer them to a metal bowl with the whole chillies.

Add the 2 tsp salt, sugar and the rest of the ingredients to a large saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Pour this over the watermelon rinds and chillies in the bowl then place a plate on top to keep the rinds under the syrup. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

The next day strain the syrup from the rinds into a saucepan, bring the syrup to the boil and pour it back over the rinds in the bowl. Cover with the plate again and the cling film and leave again overnight.

Repeat straining, boiling and pouring over rinds one more time and leave again, covered in fridge overnight. Then spoon the rinds and spices into a sterilised jar, pour over the syrup so it covers the top of the rinds and seal. Store in the fridge.

I really enjoyed making something so delicious out of something that would normally just get thrown away. Means more money to spend on shoes…..!

Watermelon Agua Fresca

9 Jul

Just a little something to quench your thirst if you are suffering like me in this unbearable heat. Sorry if you are in the rain somewhere but you can pretend it’s sunny and cheer yourself up with this refreshingly tropical drink if you like.

When it is this hot all I seem to do all day is drink water. Water is good but I do get a bit bored of it after a while. Agua Frescas are fruit based non alcoholic punches popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is basically just pureed fruit with water, lime juice and honey to sweeten. This is a non alcoholic version because I wanted something refreshing to drink during the day but I’m sure a little vodka or rum would make it into a lovely cocktail.

I kept the watermelon rinds to make watermelon pickle. The recipe will follow in my next post.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Makes 1 big pitcher/jug. Vegan, gluten-free

Prep time: 20 mins

  • 2 kg (4 pound) watermelon (1 small/med)
  • 250-300 ml (1+1/2 cups) cold water
  • 1 +1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 +1/2 tsp honey
  • ice cubes, lime slices & mint sprigs to serve

Cut the watermelon into quarters then slice into inch wide triangles/wedges. Cut the flesh from the rind leaving a little pink on (if you would like to make watermelon pickle with them). Blend the flesh in four batches with about 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) of water each time until smooth.

Carefully pour the blended watermelon through a sieve into your pitcher/jug and press out any extra juice from the pulp collected in the sieve with a spatula. Continue with the rest. You may want to add a little more water to the finished juice.

Add the lime juice and honey, mix well and taste. Add more lime/honey as required. Store covered in the fridge. Serve over lots of ice with lime slices and sprigs of mint as garnish.

Keep the rinds for the watermelon pickle recipe that follows in my next post.

Salud!!

Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad with Pistachio and Parsley

5 Jun

I know it may be a little early in the season for watermelon where you are, or it may even be getting on for winter but I got a baby watermelon in my organic veg box this week. Look how cute it is.

Look, I put it next to a lemon for you so you can see how small it is. Watermelon is one of the ingredients in my favourite summer salad and it is definitely feeling a lot like summer here so this is what I made with it.

Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad with Pistachio & Parsley

Serves 2, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Nigella Lawson

  • 1/4 small red onion, very finely sliced
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 400 g watermelon, rind & most of the seeds removed then cut into approx. 4 cm triangles
  • 100g Greek Feta cheese
  • a handful of fresh parsley leaves, left whole
  • 5 or 6 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 8 black or purple olives, halved & stoned
  • black pepper
  • extra virgen olive oil
  •  a handful of shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • lemon wedges to serve

Put the finely sliced red onions in a small bowl and cover with the lemon juice. Leave to soak while you make the rest of the salad. This makes the flavour less harsh and turns them a pretty magenta colour.

Place the watermelon triangles in a beautifully random arrangement on your serving dish/plates. Cut or break  the feta into similar sized pieces as the watermelon and scatter them amongst the watermelon. Tear off sprigs/leaves of parsley and do the same. 

Tip the bright pink onions and their juices over the salad, add the olives, drizzle with a little olive oil and top with the chopped pistachios and a grinding of black pepper. Serve with extra wedges of lemon if you like.

This is me sending some much needed sunshine in the form of this beautiful salad to all the people in the UK celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee in the cold and rain.

This is my 93-year-old Grandad at a Jubilee garden party yesterday. He is wearing ski gloves, a shawl and a blanket over his legs. This is the 4th of June by the way, a typically English summer’s day!!

Sending you some sunshine Grandad, Enjoy!!

A Watermelon Martini Granita for a Mysterious Friend

20 Jul

I’ve been watching these watermelons grow from a distance. Every morning I walk past them with the dog and look down on them. I walk on the road that goes around the top of the field, and have been taking photos from there but I wasn’t happy with them, they were too far away. I wanted to get closer so I had to scramble down quite a steep bank and quickly take some shots before anyone saw me and thought I was stealing.

Don’t you think they look strange just lying there, on the ground?

Kind of like stray, abandoned footballs, hidden in the long grass of your neighbour’s garden, that you are too afraid to ask for back.

The first thing that I think of when I see watermelon is a cocktail we used to serve at the restaurant called a Watermelon Martini. It was a beautiful pale pink colour (there was a lot of vodka in it) and it was served in a martini glass with a pink straw.

A proper girl’s drink, or so I thought.

This pretty pink drink became “The Usual” of one of our best customers who soon became a friend. I can’t mention his name (yes it’s a he) because he might have to kill me.

No seriously, he would have to kill me.

Let’s just say, he works away a lot. I don’t know what he does or where he does it. What I do know is that when he comes home he likes a nice cocktail.

 A nice pink, girly cocktail.

Now this guy is big. As in big, strong and slightly intimidating (if you don’t know him). He has a dangerous job and you’d definitely want him on your side in a fight.

To see him sitting at my bar with a baby pink martini cocktail in his (very large) hands would always completely crack me up. It still does now, and I miss it.

 So, for old times sake, you know who you are. This one’s for you. xx

I wanted to make a granita because Sawsan from Chef in Diguise and Tiffany from Como Water keep tempting me with them.  Tiffany also gave me the idea for the sugar-coated mint leaves as a garnish. The bouganvilla is from our roof terrace and is just the perfect colour to go with this.

Watermelon Martini Granita Recipe

Makes about a litre tub, 4-6 martini size glasses.

Adapted from Como Water & Alcoholic Drink Recipes

  • about 600 gr cubed watermelon, without rind
  • 2 tsp fresh lime/lemon juice
  • 55 gr (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 55 ml (1/4 cup) vodka, or more to taste
  • fresh mint leaves
  • sugar
  • a wedge of watermelon to decorate the glass

Remove as many seeds from the watermelon as possible, cut into cubes and put in a food proccessor or bowl with the lime/lemon juice and sugar and blend well until smooth.

Strain the puree through a sieve into a shallow pyrex dish or metal tin. Press the pulp through the sieve with a spatula to squeeze as much juice out as possible. Mix the vodka into the juice and taste. Add more vodka , sugar or lime juice to taste.

Freeze for about an hour until the edges start to freeze. Fold the frozen bits into the middle with a fork. Do this every half an hour for about 4 hours. (I know it sounds time consuming, but it’s so worth it, and you don’t have to sit there waiting for it, just set the timer and get on with something else).

Meanwhile make the sugar-coated mint leaves. Tip some sugar onto a small plate, wash the mint leaves then dip the top side into the sugar. Put these on plate and freeze.

The granita mixture is ready when it forms ice crystals. Rake it with the fork and serve in chilled glasses garnished with the sugar-coated mint leaves and a wedge of watermelon.

Salud!

Things that made me smile today……..

 

Our hibiscus plants in full bloom….

With a watermelon martini granita in one hand and an hibiscus flower behind my ear, the world is a happy place!

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