Each season brings a variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from. Choosing fruits and vegetables in season ensures peak freshness, flavor, and the highest nutritional content. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where certain fruits and vegetables are grown and can buy locally, that is even better.
No matter where you live, the melon family is synonymous with summer. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are honeydew all summer long. Watermelon peaks in the summer, but cantaloupe and honeydew have a longer season and will have a more intense flavor well into fall.
Which one should I buy?
When you are at the market, you have no doubt seen many different ways people select their melon. Some people gently knock on it and listen for a certain sound or try to smell it through the rind. Watermelon should be firm, heavy, and have a faded or whitish-yellow spot on one side where it was sitting until it was ripened. If your market sells watermelon in quarters, they have done you a huge favor. Look for a split in the flesh, and some whitish marks on it. This indicates a super sweet choice.
For honeydew, I like to look at the rind; it shouldn’t be overly green and should have several lines on it.
When selecting cantaloupe, look closely at the rind. Cantaloupe is covered in a light weaving. Look at the rind beneath the weaving; pass up cantaloupes with dark green underneath the weaving; they are not ripe yet and can yield a hard and unsweet fruit. The rind and the weaving should be cream-on-cream-colored.
Watermelon can be so sweet and fun to eat that you can forget how nutritious it is for you. A one-cup serving yields around 46 calories and is a good source of Vitamins A and C, and is rich in two phytonutrients; Citrulline and Lycopene. Citrulline is found in the rind and white part of the melon, and Lycopene is found in the flesh. Lycopene is associated with decreasing muscle weakness, prostate and eye health, increased insulin sensitivity, and lowered blood pressure.
Try this refreshing salad. Lime juice draws out the flavor, feta balances the sweetness, and mint is the final accent. Simple to prepare with compound flavoring will have your guests asking for more.
Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint
1 medium seedless watermelon (About 10 cups)
¼ c. olive oil
3 limes, juiced
1 c. fresh mint leaves, washed and air dried
1 ½ cups crumbled feta cheese
1 medium cucumber
¼ c. red onion
- Cut rind from watermelon and cut into 1” chunks.
- Whisk together olive oil and lime juice and any watermelon juice.
- Sprinkle the feta over the watermelon.
- Depending on the size of the mint leaves, cut mint to the desired size, small leaves can remain as much as you will need.
- Serve immediately. Try to prepare as close as possible to serving time, cut the recipe in half, if you don’t think you can eat it all, as it does not hold well overnight.
Nutrition ( 12 servings; 144 calories, 10 g fat, 3.9 sat fat, 273 mg Sodium, 10 g Carbohydrate, g fiber, 4.8g Protein)
Did you ever want to serve your guests a cool and healthy dessert in summer, instead of just fruit? Try Iced Watermelon, lighter than ice cream, and with the addition of fresh lime juice, it is refreshing and light.
1 tsp flavored gelatin
2 T. water
2 T. Fresh lime juice
2 T. honey
4 cups watermelon
- Add water to a small bowl and add gelatin. Let stand for one minute and microwave for 40 seconds, allow to completely dissolve.
- Place lime juice, honey, and gelatin mixture in a blender and add one cup of watermelon and process until blended. Add remaining watermelon 1 cup at a time and pulse until smooth.
- Transfer to a shallow dish, and freeze until almost firm.
- Remove from the freezer and portion into 4 dishes; return to freezer until ready to serve.
- Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Nutrition (4 servings; fat 2g; sodium 2 mg; carbohydrate 20g; sugars 18g; protein 1.5g)
I love preparing this next dish for my guests, the contrast of flavors provides a great beginning to any evening! I like it because it can be prepared ahead of time and can be stacked neatly in plastic containers. Give them to your guest that always arrives early and asks for something to do. They can be taken out of the refrigerator before everyone else arrives! Bonus, they are super easy for your guests to eat while they are mingling around!
Prosciutto Wrapped Honeydew
3 T Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh ground black pepper
½ Honeydew; cut into 1” cubes
6 honeydewrosciutto sliced thin
- Place the vinegar in a small saucepan with ¼ tsp of black pepper and simmer over medium heat until reduced to one-half.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- Wrap each piece of honeydew with a half slice of prosciutto and top with a basil leaf.
- Arrange on a platter and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
Nutrition (12 servings; calories 28; fat .9g; sat fat .3g; sodium 173g; carbohydrate 3.1 g; fiber .2g; sugars 2.8g; protein 2.2g)
Cauliflower is one of the current stars in carb-balanced cooking since it can take on other flavors, while the fiber content provides the texture that is sometimes missing from other vegetables. Looking for a meatless meal idea, try grilling cauliflower “steaks”; eaten alone or on toasted Foccacia, you’ll love the flavor and the lightness of the meal. Try topping with chimichurri (like we used on our Grilled Eggplant https://laurazervos.com/summer-made-easy-and-healthy/ )or any other accompaniment that you like for your steak to add another layer of flavor.
Grilled Cauliflower Steaks
1 large head of cauliflower
2 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil
1 T. honey
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
- Remove outer leaves and make a flat edge to stand the cauliflower upright, slice ½ to ¾ “ thick “steaks”
- In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon, garlic, and honey.
- Heat grill to medium-high.
- Dip and coat each cauliflower steak with the oil mixture and sprinkle with kosher salt and crushed black pepper.
- Grill 3-4 minutes on each side until lightly browned.
- Remove from grill and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and parsley.
Nutrition (6 servings; fat 5g; sodium 16.4; carbohydrate 5.9g; fiber 1.1g; sugars 3.9g; protein 1.1g)
Mushrooms are another vegetable that is often utilized as a meatless main; partly due to the umami or fifth sense of taste associated with mushrooms. You can also use stainless steel skewers in place of the wooden skewers.
1 pound mushrooms, sliced ½” thick
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
2 T. low sodium soy sauce
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic minced
Fresh cracked black pepper
Chopped parsley or sage for garnish
- In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, and minced garlic.
- Add mushrooms and marinate for 20-30 minutes.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat.
- Skewer the mushrooms and discard the marinade.
- Grill 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
- Remove from grill and garnish with fresh sage or parsley.
- This would be a great addition to your appetizer spread, a side dish, or a meatless main paired with quinoa or brown rice.
Nutrition (10 servings; fat 1.8g; sodium 128.4 mg; carbohydrate 6 g; fiber 1.4 g; sugars 3.7; protein 4.5g)
I hope you enjoy these taste combinations and all of the goodness that summer fruits and vegetables have to offer!