Melons have finally made their way to market! While watermelon and cantaloupe are typically enjoyed by themselves, you can do a lot more with them than you think. There are plenty of creative ways to incorporate them into your cooking this summer, including in salads, soups, or even thrown on the grill!
Look for both red and yellow watermelons being sold from Sleight Family Farm (West, North, and Asheville City markets). Both Gibson Berry Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market) and Ten Mile Farm (Black Mountain and Asheville City markets) are selling cantaloupe in addition to watermelon, and we look forward to more vendors bringing melons in the coming weeks!
This refreshing melon feta salad is the perfect mix of sweet and salty to become your favorite side for the rest of summer. Start by whisking together one-fourth cup of extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons red wine vinegar, and a dash of salt in a small bowl. In another large bowl, combine two cups of cubed watermelon or cantaloupe (or one cup of each), one medium chopped cucumber, one cup of feta crumbles, and a half cup each of thinly sliced red onion and coarsely chopped mint. The feta can also be substituted with chopped mozzarella or goat cheese crumbles.
Melons also work wonderfully in a cold soup. This cantaloupe gazpacho is an interesting spin on a classic recipe, and not only looks beautiful, but tastes amazing too! Start with one cantaloupe (peeled, seeded, and chopped), one cucumber (peeled, seeded, and chopped), one chopped shallot, one-third cup of water, the juice of one lime, and a half cup of olive oil. Puree ingredients together in a food processor or high speed blender, adding olive oil when mixture is smooth. With a few different ingredients, gazpacho can easily be made with watermelon as well. Start with eight cups of cubed red or yellow watermelon, one medium cucumber (peeled and chopped), one medium tomato (chopped), two shallots (peeled and chopped), and one-fourth cup of loosely packed basil. Blend these ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth, then stir in two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a few dashes of hot sauce. For both soups, chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, then serve garnished with basil leaves if desired.
For an easy appetizer, try grilling your watermelon. While it may sound strange, grilling your watermelon will caramelize some of its sweetness, giving it a slightly smoky flavor. Slice your watermelon into quarters, then slice the quarters into half-inch thick triangle shapes, leaving some of the rind on the out edges. Arrange the melon slices on the grill in a single layer, grilling over high heat on each side for two to three minutes, until grill marks appear. We recommend enjoying your grilled watermelon fresh off the grill by dipping it in whipped feta from Ali Rae Foods (West and East Asheville, Weaverville, and Asheville City markets).
At farmers markets now you’ll also find apples, peaches, berries, pears, okra, tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, cucumbers, garlic, potatoes, beets, leafy greens, mushrooms, and much more. Markets are stocked with a variety of meats, cheese, rice, pasta, bread, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.