José Andrés: The Taste of Summer

One of the highlights of summer is when watermelons start to appear in my farmers markets.

With their bright colors and sweet and crunchy taste, they are a natural energizer and the perfect treat on hot and heavy days. Millionaire, Estrella, Crimson Sweet, Sugar Baby, Yellow Doll, Little Baby Flower, Farmer’s Wonderful, I can’t get enough of all the varieties. Red, yellow, even orange flesh and with seeds or without, watermelon is incredibly good for you, too. It not only quenches your thirst but gives you essential nutrients that your body needs, like vitamins A and C, potassium, and antioxidants.

What most people don’t realize about watermelon is how sophisticated it can be. A triangle-shaped slice dripping with juices is perfectly fine by me, but there are so many other things you can do with it and flavors you can pair it with that turn it into an elegant dish. These are just some of the ways I like to prepare it. Easy, light and healthy, they’ll be all you want to eat this summer.

Watermelon with Feta Air

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watermelon Steaks with Pistachios and Micro Greens
Serves 4

1 watermelon
3 tomatoes
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons Spanish extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt, for garnish
Chopped pistachios, for garnish
Micro greens, for garnish
2 ounces feta or goat cheese
Sea salt, to taste

1. Cut the ends off the watermelon. Slice off the white and green rind from each side to make a large rectangle or square. Cut the watermelon into four 2-inch-thick slices. Trim each slice into a 2-by-4-inch steak and set aside

2. Cut a small x in the bottom of each tomato and prepare a bowl filled with ice water. Bring a small saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Carefully drop the tomatoes into the water for 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, drain and submerge the tomatoes into the ice water. Peel and seed the tomatoes. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch dice. Toss the diced tomato with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt.

3. Place the steaks on plates. Top each with a bit of the tomato mixture, the pistachios and the micro greens. Sprinkle pinches of cheese over the plate, season with Maldon salt and drizzle with remaining olive oil.

You can also sear the watermelon steaks on a hot pan for an extra special dish:

4. In a skillet over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the watermelon steaks and cook for a few minutes on each side until caramelized around the edges.

Watermelon + Tomatoe Scewers

Watermelon and Tomato Skewers
Serves 4 

8 plum tomatoes
1 seedless watermelon, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Sea salt, to taste
Micro greens or thinly sliced mint leaves, for garnish 

1. Using a sharp knife, slice off the tops and bottoms of each of the tomatoes. Locate the dividing wall of flesh separating one segment inside the tomato. Slice into the wall and open up the flesh to expose the seeds. Remove the seeds and their pulp by slicing through the tomato core. Set aside the seeds. Your aim is to keep the pulp of the seeds together to create fillet of tomato seeds that are separate from the firmer tomato flesh. Repeat with each segment of the tomato.

2. Skewer one tomato seed fillet on each cube of watermelon. Arrange the skewers on a serving plate.

3. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the oil, and vinegar and 1/2 of the lemon zest. Pour the dressing on the skewers. Sprinkle with sea salt, the remaining lemon zest and the greens. Serve immediately

Watermelon Granita with Mint
Serves 4

2 watermelons
Zest from one lemon
Zest from one orange
Mint Leaves, for garnish
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Peel and seed 1 watermelon and cut into large chunks. Purée in a blender until smooth and liquefied. Cut open the second watermelon and remove the flesh from the rind. Cut into 16 2-inch cubes and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Place 2 cups of the watermelon juice in an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish and freeze. After about an hour, scrape the watermelon ice with a fork to create a granita. Place some of the granita in each of 4 chilled soup plates. Place 4 watermelon cubes in each plate. Springle the lemon and orange zest over each bowl and garnish with the mint leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper just before serving.

Aguas Frescas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aqua de Sandia
Serves 4

1 large watermelon
Sugar to taste
Limes

1. Peel and seed the watermelon and cut into large chunks. Purée in a blender until watermelon is smooth and liquefied. Taste for sweetness and add sugar and water as you like. Puree again and then strain the juice into a pitcher and refrigerate until well-chilled. Serve over ice with a slice of lime, if you like.

Watermelon Soda
Serves 4

1 large watermelon
Sugar to taste
One soda siphon
CO2 cartridges 

1. Peel and seed the watermelon and cut into large chunks. Purée in a blender until watermelon is smooth and liquefied. Taste for sweetness and add sugar and water as you like. Puree again and then strain and refrigerate the watermelon juice until cold. When ready to serve, follow the manufacturers instructions on the soda siphon and fill with about 4 cups of the strained watermelon juice. Charge the siphon with carbon dioxide cartridges and pour.

Watermelon Gazpacho
Serves 4

1 watermelon, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cucumber, peeled
1 red pepper, cored and seeded
1/2 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to tasted
Sherry vinegar, as needed
4 tomatoes
Croutons

1. Put the watermelon chunks in a blender. Using an apple corer, remove the seeds from the cucumber; the seeds will come out in tube-like lengths; reserve the seeds. Add half of the cucumber and half of the pepper to the blender. Blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and blend until a smooth emulsion is formed. Season with salt and vinegar. Strain the gazpacho and refrigerate until chilled.

2. Using a sharp knife, slice off the tops and bottoms of each of the tomatoes. Locate the dividing wall of flesh separating one segment inside the tomato. Slice into the wall and open up the flesh to expose the seeds. Remove the seeds and their pulp by slicing through the tomato core. Set aside the seeds. Your aim is to keep the pulp of the seeds together to create fillet of tomato seeds that are separate from the firmer tomato flesh. Repeat with each segment of the tomato.

3. Cut the remaining cucumber and red pepper into 1/2-inch dice. Cut the cucumber seed tubes into 1/2-inch pieces.

4. In the bottom of each soup plate, arrange the diced cucumber, red pepper, cucumber seeds, tomato seeds and croutons. Pour the chilled gazpacho over the bowls at the table.

This story is part of National Geographic’s special eight-month Future of Food series.

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