When it's too hot to cook an entire meal or you don't have the urge opt for something that takes just a little time to prepare and only a few seconds to heat.
Pan-seared watermelon with peppery arugula, anyone?
A summertime staple, watermelon is inexpensive and refreshing. It's also good for you because it contains lycopene, a winner in the antioxidant arena. Many studies have found that lycopene may help protect against certain diseases, including some cancers.
It is the red pigment found in foods like tomatoes that contains the lycopene. But unlike tomatoes, which have more lycopene when cooked or processed, watermelon needs no cooking to reap its benefits. Watermelon also contains high levels of beta-carotene.
Pan-searing the watermelon softens it slightly, making it pair nicely with soft greens and feta or goat cheese. The salad gets a nice crunch from the almonds and radishes. And the vinaigrette that's made with the blend of boiled-down balsamic vinegar and watermelon juice is sweet yet tangy.
Arugula (ah-ROO-guh-lah) is a green known for its bite. When used in salads, it's often mixed with other greens to balance the peppery flavor. Arugula leaves are very soft and highly perishable they keep only a few days, tightly wrapped in plastic. Wash them well and pat dry before using.
You can find them sold in bunches at farmers markets and grocery stores. Some stores sell arugula in small plastic containers similar to those containing fresh herbs.
You can serve this salad as a main dish for an extremely light supper. For a more substantial meal, top it off with some protein. It's also ideal as a first course that will wow your guests.
I highly recommend freezing the watermelon juice into ice cubes. The cubes are great addition to smoothies and summertime cocktails.
WATERMELON, ARUGULA AND TOASTED ALMOND SALAD
Serves: 6 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 35 minutes
- 1 small seedless watermelon, about 6 pounds
- Sea salt to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup white or dark balsamic or cider vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 cups loosely packed arugula leaves or favorite salad greens
- 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds, lightly toasted
- 1/4 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 1/4 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 1/4 cup.
Pour the reduced juice into a serving bowl and whisk in the remaining 1/4 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.
238 calories (64 percent from fat), 17 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat), 18 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 121 mg sodium, 8 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.
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