Chef Kelly Unger
Melons are nutrient therapy!
Another harbinger of Summer, melons are always a welcomed sight and flavor, especially during these times. “Watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, crenshaw, canary, Santa Claus, galia, charentais, casaba - they are all keys to the palace of health.” says Anthony William in his book Life Changing Foods. “... melon flesh is so assimilable that our digestive systems barely need to process it when it enters the body, because it is so high in enzymes and certain coenzymes… Eating melon is like getting intravenous nutrient therapy.”
As if you weren’t already in love with melons, knowing how healthy they are will hopefully motivate you to eat more of them. The summer heat and the pandemic environment have put such a strain on our body which can certainly be alleviated by eating more melon.
Of course melon should be eaten raw and beyond the iconic Prosciutto Wrapped Melon, I love to include multiple melon varieties in a Cena Freddo, Italian for “cold dinner”. It’s a giant platter of cold items that either require no cooking at all or were cooked and are now being served cold. The contents of a Ceno Freddo change with what you have available but include meats, vegetables, cheese, bread and fruit. Think salumi, prosciutto, a wedge of asiago, olives, pickles, melons in slices, wedges of red beets, thin slices of kohlrabi, cherry tomatoes, slices of Nord baguette or plain sourdough, raw zucchini rounds, etc. Then the artist in you really comes out to play in how you arrange everything on the platter. Served with ice cold white wine, a cold dinner like this is a fantastic way to beat the heat!
Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy these healthy powerhouses:
Cubed watermelon with feta and mint as a salad.
Cubed watermelon with lime zest and juice, topped with coconut as a snack or breakfast.
Cubed melon of any kind with diced peaches topped with granola, coconut and almond milk as an alternative to cereal.
Diced watermelon in place of tomatoes in salsa.
Enjoy melons every day for better health while they are in season. To preserve the bounty, freeze cubed pieces of melon in a single layer on a baking sheet (about 1 hour - before transferring to a freezer bag for storage). Frozen melon won’t be great for eating fresh anymore BUT they will be great in smoothies so you can still enjoy the health benefit after melons are gone for the season. They should last for up to two months when flash frozen as described above. Cheers to melons!