Watermelons, cantaloupes are summer treats. Enjoy these three refreshing recipes

Enjoy a sweet slice of summer!
Enjoy a sweet slice of summer! PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN
This “Sugar Baby” watermelon lives up to its name.
This “Sugar Baby” watermelon lives up to its name. PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

BUYING GUIDE

A good watermelon is firm, symmetrical, bruise-free and heavy for its size. That yellow spot means it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.

Cantaloupe should be heavy and firm too with yellowish-orange coloring, a good smell and slightly soft stem end.

Prefer honeydew? Look for one weighing around 5 pounds - firm with a little softness at the stem. When ripe, it turns creamy yellow and feels slightly waxy.

Sources: Watermelon Board and Penn State Extension

One by one, they knocked. At Pete’s Produce Farm in West Chester, shoppers tapped “Sugar Babies,” cantaloupes, red and yellow seedless watermelons — listening for a good one, leaving satisfied they’d found the best.

“Regular red seedless is probably the most popular. Sugar Baby is the sweetest,” manager Danni Hayes said. “The yellow watermelon really blows people’s minds because it’s yellow.”

She also sells bright yellow canary melon and homegrown “Sugar Cube,” which is “like a mini cantaloupe, but super sweet and easier for a lot of people too because it’s personal size.”

Make the most of melon season and enjoy a sweet slice of summer.

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“Who does not like it? Kids love melon,” said Ashvini Mashru of Wellness Nutrition Concepts in Malvern. “Melons are very high in vitamin C and also have good hydration during the summer months.”

For “something different,” try her spicy grilled watermelon.

“The cayenne pepper adds a kick to it,” the registered dietitian-nutritionist described. “It’s a sweet and spicy combination.”

Or serve spicy melon salsa, featuring cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew – great with chips, in tacos or atop chicken and fish.

“It includes all three different melons, which I like,” Mashru said. And “it’s versatile.”

So is melon salad.

“You can really use whatever you have on hand from your weekly shopping trip or CSA,” suggested personal chef Emily Scott of The Wildflower Chef in West Chester.

She mixes melon and cucumber with add-ins like almonds, avocado, chili powder, poppy seeds and more.

“I started making melon salads a couple of years ago when I felt like everywhere I turned I saw watermelon and feta salads on the menu,” Scott explained. “I realized the genius of combining sweet and refreshing melon with salty and savory ingredients, plus a sprinkle of fresh herbs to make it light and summery.”

Back at Pete’s, market umbrellas shaded melon displays with more people reaching for the seedless varieties. They may be easier, but what about a certain tradition?

“That’s the whole point, right? To spit the seeds at people.” Hayes joked.

And a boy standing nearby, wearing a watermelon-stained shirt smiled.

Spicy Grilled Watermelon

Ingredients

¼ cup honey

¼ cup lime juice (from about 4 limes)

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 medium watermelon, cut into 1-inch thick wedges

½ cup mint chiffonade

Instructions

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lime juice, cayenne pepper and salt. Brush each side of watermelon slices with spicy lime and honey mixture. Place watermelon on grill and cook until grill marks developed, about 2 minutes per side. Remove watermelon from grill, sprinkle with mint and serve.

RECIPE COURTESY OF WELLNESS NUTRITION CONCEPTS

Spicy Melon Salsa

Ingredients

¼ cup lime juice

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon salt

3 cups total of seeded chopped watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe

1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped

¼ cup finely chopped sweet yellow pepper

¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Instructions

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Add remaining ingredients; toss to combine. Refrigerate, covered, until serving. If necessary, drain before serving.

RECIPE COURTESY OF WELLNESS NUTRITION CONCEPTS

Fresh Melon Salad

Ingredients

Start with:

1 cup sliced cucumber

Pick 1 to 2 (diced, approximately 1 cup each):

honeydew

cantaloupe

watermelon

Pick 1 (thinly sliced, to taste):

red onion

scallion

chives

Pick 1 to 2 (chopped, to taste):

mint

cilantro

basil

dill

Pick 1 (to taste):

lemon juice

lime juice

white wine vinegar

Instructions

Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Optional add-ins:

cayenne

chili powder

olive oil

honey

poppy seeds

slivered almonds

diced avocado

RECIPE COURTESY OF THE WILDFLOWER CHEF