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Refreshing salad for a warm day

Recipe: A pop of heat combines with cool watermelon

Watermelon, peppers and lime make a great summer salad. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Watermelon is an under-appreciated savory ingredient. Standard green salads are great, but you can hardly call them refreshing. Toss in some cold watermelon chunks, and wow. (It is a relative of cucumber, after all.)

This salad takes things a step further by putting the watermelon front and center, and then adding ingredients that complement it. Looking at the ingredients list, you might be reminded of salsa, but there’s not nearly the chopping involved.

Note how the melon is sliced.

I adapted this from an Epicurious recipe that includes jicama. I’m not a big fan of jicama, which strikes me as chalky even when it's fresh.  I substituted the crispest pieces from a head of romaine lettuce. Lots of crunch without the flavorless chunks of jicama getting in the way.

This is ideal to serve at the 4th of July cookout as a contrast to the potato salad. Any leftovers hold up well in the refrigerator, too.

Spiced watermelon salad
Serves 4-6


One 3- to 4-pound seedless watermelon, preferably chilled if serving immediately
4 or 5 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried — the crispest ones in the head or in the package
1 large or 2 small jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced (remove the seeds if you like it less spicy)
1 or 2 scallions, sliced on diagonal, white and light green parts only
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Coarse sea salt, to taste


This watermelon is a few ounces under 4 pounds. For reference, the scale's
diameter is 7.5 inches

Cut watermelon in half, then in quarters. Slice off and discard the rind on one of the quarters. (Rind is great compost material — just saying.) Cut off shards (thin, not chunks) of watermelon, arranging them on a large plate or serving dish. You may not need all the watermelon, depending on its size and the size of your serving dish, so work with just one quarter at a time.

Break up the romaine leaves and scatter them over the watermelon. Toss the other ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle the mixture over the watermelon and romaine pieces. Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving time.

Note: Want to know how to choose a good little watermelon? The ones at the farmers markets usually are ready to go, but the watermelons at the supermarket are a mixed bag. Look for:
1. A melon heavy for its size with a dull, not shiny, skin. It should have a regular shape, whether round or somewhat oval.
2. A "field patch" of creamy white to yellow on one side, with yellow being best. This means the melon ripened on the ground. Avoid any without a patch.
3. Look for light scarring or dots on the melon. This is from bees, who know sweet.
4. Tiny dried sugar deposits on the stem end also indicate sweetness.

(Thumping a small watermelon is almost impossible, so leave that for the big melons.)


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For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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