Saturday, April 19, 2014

It's watermelon time!

by Mary Kennedy

I felt so encouraged to find watermelon in the store last week that I just had to write a post about it. They're the round "mini" watermelons and they look delicious. I have one ripening in a brown paper bag on my sun porch right now. It's probably already ripe, but I want to make absolutely sure before I cut into it. (better safe than sorry, to coin a clich√©.)

One very popular dish we enjoyed down south was "Watermelon Salad." Once a month, on summer nights, it was "salad night" in Tennessee, and a handful of neighbors (there were six of us) would push some picnic tables together and have a whole meal out of salad and French bread (and yes, some wine and dessert.).  We took turns "hosting" the event and the host would provide wine, soft drinks, sweet tea, loads of baguettes and sour dough bread along with a decadent dessert.  (Coconut cake was a favorite, along with Lane Cake, lemon meringue pie and Key Lime pie.)

The rest of us each brought a salad.  All different salads; pasta salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, Greek salad and three bean salad were staples but we would experiment with more adventurous recipes, too.

 Oh, and a big crock of homemade pimento cheese spread was always on the table. One of the members always brought that as her "salad" and we loved it.  It was great fun, and I still feel nostalgic about it those long summer evenings surrounded by friends. I collected some wonderful salad recipes in those days. Since almost everyone (but me!) grew fresh vegetables and everything was straight from the garden. Delicious! Seeing the little watermelons in the store brought back happy memories for me. Do certain foods make you feel nostalgic?

by Mary Kennedy


Aurian said...

I don't like melon at all, any kind, the smell alone makes me walk away. The pimento cheese spread sounds good, I love cheeses.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Here's the watermelon salad recipe. You need 6 cups watermelon, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, a Tablespoon of sugar, 4 oz of feta cheese (or goat cheese, if you prefer), 2 Tablespoons olive oil (optional) and fresh mint leaves. Mix the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and cook for 4 minutes until liquid is reduced. Pour over watermelon, toss gently with cheese. You can add olive oil at this point, if you want. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve right away.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Aurian, I can post the pimento cheese spread mix next time, if you like. Everyone has their own tastes with pimento cheese (one of my friends makes a Tex-Mex version) but if you like the "down-home" that is served down South, I think you would like my recipe. I'm always surprised when I see people buying those little (over-priced!) jars of pimento cheese in the grocery store. The home-made stuff is so much better!! Cheaper, too.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

I would love to get a "salad night" going up here in the northeast, maybe being in Tennessee with all those warm summer nights was part of the charm. It was something to look forward to.

Aurian said...

Hi Mary, I would love a recipe, as I don't have a clue what a pimento cheese spread is.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Southerners are picky about their pimento cheese spread, but here is the one we all used in Nashville.
1 small (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 to 3 tablespoons pimentos, smashed (they come in a jar, be sure to drain them)
1 teaspoon grated onion
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of garlic powder (optional)
, Beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add all the other ingredients and beat until well blended. It can be used as a dip or as a sandwich filling. This is really good with baguette rounds, melba toast, chips, veggies, etc.

Dru said...

I was oogling the watermelons this morning. I can never pick out a good melon.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

All food makes me nostalgic! I'm already nostalgic for lunch. These are great recipes, Mary. Thanks for sharing that lovely tradition with us. I love Pimento cheese: had it in North Carolina at Molly Westin's place. I'd never heard of it, being Canadian. But wow! Is it delish.

Thanks again.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

HI Dru, I wish I knew the secret! You see people in the store tapping on melons and holding them up to their ear. What are they listening for, I never could figure it out! Thanks for stopping by, have a good holiday!

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Pimento cheese is definitely one of my faves, MJ! Thanks for stopping by!