This sweet-salty broiled appetizer is a traditional cocktail tidbit served with drinks throughout the South. It’s never had a real name though. And it desperately needs one. Right now, it takes longer to say “bacon-wrapped sweetened watermelon-rind pickle” than it does to eat one. But think Wa-termelon and Ba-con, and suddenly WaBa Bites becomes the perfect name. (It’s been coined by Watermelon Times, of course; let’s give credit where credit is due.)
Recipes: Now That's Using Your Melon
Watermelon is called “the smile of summer,” and certainly smiles abound when watermelon is served.
Enjoy the classic ice-cold slice of watermelon, but later branch out to try various recipes. If you keep in mind that watermelon combines well with the complementary flavors of lime, mint, and ginger, you might well invent recipes of your own. Furthermore, all parts of a watermelon are edible – flesh, seeds, and rind. (Note: the thin green part of the rind is tough and bitter, so better to compost it than to eat it.)
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Here are some recipes to get you started.
Cassis (full name crème de cassis) is a liqueur made from black currants. It might be best known as the ingredient that creates Kir when added to champagne or white wine. Here it adds a subtle, deep-fruit undertone to a light-fruit ice.
The much-loved, much-missed Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C., took an early lead in using local ingredients in fresh, simply prepared food. Here Chef Nora Pouillon’s chilled watermelon gazpacho has the same red color as the traditional, tomato-based Spanish soup, but her clever riff provides a taste surprise.
Dubbed the “dean of American cookery” by the New York Times, James Beard documented and influenced cooking throughout the U.S. In his 1972 cookbook, James Beard’s American Cookery, he paid special attention to watermelon pickles, a traditional “sweet meat” made from the white part of watermelon rind, sugar, vinegar, and spices.
When I published this slushy-drink watermelon recipe in the Food section of the Washington Post, it was because I really liked it. Turns out I wasn’t the only one. Next thing I knew, it had been selected for the cookbook The Best American Recipes 2004-2005: The year’s top picks from books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Now you’ve got to try it, right?
Have each person take a slice of watermelon, rub it with a slice of freshly peeled ginger, then rub it again with a slice of lime. It’s done! Eat with pleasure.