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Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 12:01 am

Too much watermelon!

The average American household throws away more than $1,500 worth of food every year, according to the James Beard Foundation. Last year the foundation launched Waste Not, a multi-year campaign to educate consumers on full-use cooking –  how to use all the food you buy and avoid food waste. Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food, is their new cookbook, featuring recipes from well-known chefs who incorporate commonly discarded ingredients into their dishes.

“Nose-to-tail eating” is a philosophy of using every part of the animal in food preparation and letting nothing go to waste. In the restaurant kitchen where I’m employed, this philosophy is also applied to fruits and vegetables. Instead of peels and roots and seeds being tossed into the garbage or compost bucket, produce scraps are turned into salsas and sauces or flavored oils and vinegars; or pickled or fermented or dehydrated.

For example, one of our starter snacks is a tiny beet kebab. Skewers are carved from foraged juniper branches. The remaining juniper greens are combined with mint and brewed into a tea. The juniper berries are dried or pickled. Some of the trimmings from the beet kebab cubes are put into the dehydrator to be dried and ground into a powder which will later be dusted over a deviled quail egg. Some of the beet root trimmings will be turned into a drink which will be part of the non-alcoholic beverage pairing. The beet greens will be grilled to accompany the barbequed quail or stewed like spinach or fermented into kimchi. Before being grilled, the beet kebab cubes will be marinated in an oil made from watercress stems.

This is the time of the year that watermelons start showing up in my weekly CSA box. I currently have two large watermelons sitting on my kitchen counter and half a watermelon taking up space in my already crowded refrigerator. This is a perfect opportunity to take on the Waste Not challenge and prepare dishes and condiments with all the parts of the melon.

Grilled watermelon

Grilling watermelon transforms it into something savory, smoky, almost steak-like.

Ingredients
Seedless watermelon
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the melon

Preparation

Cut the watermelon into 1 ½ inches-thick “steaks.” Cut off the rind.

Lightly sprinkle the wedges on both sides with the salt. Stand the wedges on their edges on a rack over a sink or pan and let drain for ½ hour.

Preheat grill to high.

After the watermelon has drained, rinse each piece under cold running water. Place each piece between two folded paper towels and gently but firmly press to remove excess water. Stop when you feel the watermelon begin to crunch.

Brush the watermelon lightly on both sides with olive oil. Grill over high heat until grill marks have formed and the melon is slightly softened, about five minutes. Remove to a platter and let stand.

Watermelon gazpacho

Ingredients
6 cups of cubed watermelon
1 1/2 cups ice
3/4 cup whole blanched almonds
3 garlic cloves
8 slices sandwich bread, torn into pieces
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

Purée watermelon in a blender. Pour purée through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids, and saving seeds for another use.

Return juice to blender and blend together with ice, almonds and garlic until smooth. Add bread, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste and blend, adding oil in a slow stream, until smooth.

Greek watermelon salad

Ingredients
1 small or 1/4 large watermelon cut into 1-inch chunks (save rind for another use)
2 medium tomatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into thin strips
1 medium cucumber, quartered lengthwise, and cut into ½-inch half-moons
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
4 ounces feta cheese
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling.
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Combine watermelon chunks, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, herbs and kalamata olives in a large mixing bowl.

In a small jar, combine mustard and red wine vinegar. Add olive oil, cover and shake vigorously to emulsify.

Add dressing to bowl and gently toss until vegetables are evenly dressed. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper. (The feta will add saltiness, so salt sparingly.)

Transfer salad to a platter and spread out evenly. Crumble feta over the top.

Drizzle with more olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper.

Pickled watermelon rind

Yield: 4 cups
Ingredients
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 cups of peeled and sliced watermelon rind (just the white part- green skin and red pulp removed)
One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 jalapeño, seeded and halved lengthwise

Preparation

In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar and salt and heat while stirring until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.

Place the watermelon rind, ginger and jalapeno slices into a jar and add the pickling liquid.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the pickles before serving.

The pickles can be refrigerated in their brine for up to 2 weeks. After 2 weeks they lose some flavor and soften.

Roasted watermelon seeds

Though most people spit out the seeds or buy seedless watermelons, like many seeds and nuts, watermelon seeds are a good source of healthy unsaturated fat as well as the essential minerals iron, magnesium and copper.

Ingredients
1 cup watermelon seeds
½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cayenne

Preparation

Remove seeds from watermelon.

Rinse seeds in a colander and pat dry with paper towels.

Spread out on a baking sheet and allow to dry for at least an hour.

Toss seeds in olive oil, salt and cayenne.

Roast on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  

You can follow Peter’s culinary journey @docglatz on Instagram or at berthabus.com. 

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