Watermelon -- Versatile Summer Market Food

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My kids love summer fruit. Everything is rich in color, ripe and delicious, so I like to include it in every meal. Eating seasonally makes meal planning easier and healthier. When you center your meal around market fresh cooking, dishes lighten up and you never get bored.

Farmer's markets are a great resource, but you can take it one step further and get your ingredients straight from the farm!Farming is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles but we do have some wonderful local farms that supply us with seasonal produce. One of my favorites is Tanaka Farms, located in Irvine. The farm is family-owned and is open to the public for tours. They take you around on a tractor through the fields, where you can sample whatever is in season. The carrots and onions you get to taste come straight out of the ground, and are the sweetest you'll find. There are strawberry tours in the spring and pumpkin tours in the fall but in summer, it's all about the watermelon!

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The tour teaches you about identifying ripe watermelon and the different varieties, from the common red to the elegant yellow watermelon. You can taste them, then it's off to pick your own! Watching the kids struggle to pick them up is always the fun part.

When you bring watermelon home you may think the only option is to cut it and eat it. Not so! Watermelon is versatile in a variety of dishes! I like to chop it down and juice it, then squeeze it through cheesecloth to get pure watermelon juice. I use the juice in a variety of things, one of the easiest being Watermelon Blueberry Ade. A simple blend of the watermelon juice with sugar and blueberries makes for a refreshing summer drink that is great for outdoor get togethers.

And what's summer without ice cream? By using the fresh watermelon juice as a base you can create watermelon ice cream, adding mini chocolate chips to represent 'seeds' and add a sweet chocolatey accent.

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One of the more challenging ways to use market fresh watermelon is by making tacos! I like to use the watermelon juice when cooking the meat and also dicing it for a fresh summer salsa.

Market fresh cooking is easy when summer ingredients are ripe and plentiful. From appetizers to desserts, using fresh ingredients makes summer meal planning a breeze!

Watermelon Blueberry Ade

Ingredients:

2 cups watermelon juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

Chop watermelon into small pieces and place in the blender, blend until smooth.

Pour the watermelon juice into a cheesecloth and squeeze out all the juice. Discard the pulp.

In a blender add the watermelon juice, lemon juice, blueberries and the sugar. Blend until combined. Serve cold over ice.

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Watermelon Chip Ice Cream

This ice cream is smooth and creamy with a hint of watermelon flavor that comes from using fresh juice. The "seeds" here are edible-chocolate chips that add texture and sweetness to cool summer dessert.

Ingredients:

2 cups watermelon juice

3/4 sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

To make watermelon juice, chop watermelon into small pieces and place in the blender, blend until smooth. Pour the watermelon juice into a cheesecloth and squeeze out all the juice. Discard the pulp. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the watermelon juice, sugar, lemon juice and heavy whipping cream.

Pour into an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's directions. In the last 5 minutes, add the mini chocolate chips.

Place in an airtight container and freeze until you are ready to scoop!

Watermelon Tacos with fresh Watermelon Salsa

Ingredients:

1 lb thinly sliced beef sirloin

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

2 cups watermelon juice

salsa ingredients:

2 cups watermelon, finely diced

2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced

1/2 cup onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 clove shallot, minced

juice of half a lime

salt

pepper

To make watermelon juice, chop watermelon into small pieces and place in the blender, blend until smooth. Pour the watermelon juice into a cheesecloth and squeeze out all the juice. Discard the pulp. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the chili powder, brown sugar, garlic, onion powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

In a pan over medium high heat add a little bit of oil and the beef sirloin. When it starts to brown add the spices and the watermelon juice. Cover and cook until the juice simmers down, about 5 minutes.

For the salsa combine the diced watermelon, Roma tomatoes,cilantro and shallot. Toss with the juice of half a lime and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the beef on flour tortillas, top with fresh watermelon salsa and serve!


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