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Food & Entertaining

Watermelon and Mint Cooler

Author: Sydney Dye
Issue: August, 2013, Page 56



Summer Sensation - Nothing says summer like the sweet, crisp taste of watermelon. These seasonal favorites come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Their rinds can be green, yellow and sometimes even white; their fleshy interior comes in everything from deep red to light pink to orange and yellow; and they are available with or without seeds. Note, however, that seedless watermelons actually do have seeds, though they are few in number and are soft and edible. Watermelons are ripe locally in the Phoenix area and at their peak from June to late August.

When shopping for these juicy gems, look for melons that are symmetrical and well-rounded (avoid those with flat sides). Give the melon a good thump; it should sound hollow when ripe, and the rind should be dull (not shiny) and free of blemishes, soft spots and gashes. Once cut, the fruit needs to be wrapped, refrigerated, and used within a few days. Watermelons are a great source of vitamins A and C, so eat (or drink) up!


Serves 4

Watermelon and Mint Cooler


1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 to 2 inches fresh ginger root*, peeled
Juice from 2 limes, strained
1 cup ice cubes
4 cups pink watermelon, rind removed, seeded and cut into cubes
1/2 cup tequila or vodka
Small wedges of watermelon and sprigs of mint* for garnish

Photo by Garrett Cook
 
MAKE a flavored simple syrup by combining 1-3 slices of ginger, sugar and water in a small saucepan and heating it until sugar is dissolved. Strain and set aside to cool.

GRATE
remaining ginger into a small bowl using a grater or microplane. Add the strained lime juice and set aside.

ADD
the following in a food processor or blender: ice cubes; grated ginger and lime juice;  1/2 cup of the flavored simple syrup; watermelon; and tequila or vodka. Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

TRANSFER
watermelon mixture to a pitcher. Taste for sweetness; add more flavored simple syrup as needed.

POUR
into ice-filled glasses. Garnish with a wedge of watermelon and a mint sprig. Serve immediately.


*HERBAL NOTES
Fresh ginger can be found in the produce section of your local grocery store. Look for smooth skin (if the skin is wrinkled, the ginger is old) and a bold, spicy fragrance. Fresh unpeeled ginger, if well wrapped, will last in the refrigerator up to three weeks, and in the freezer up to three months.

Mint, a perennial herb, is easy to grow and makes a valuable addition to your kitchen herb garden. Because it is a rampant spreader, it’s best to plant it in a bottomless container that is at least 15 inches deep and sunk into the ground. Even though this herb likes a cool, moist spot in partial shade, it will grow nicely in full sun.

Enjoy fresh mint made into a flavorful iced tea or sprinkle its chopped fresh leaves over lamb, rice, salads or cooked vegetables.

Sydney Dye is a home gardener, chef and owner of First Fig Culinary Adventures in Scottsdale.
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