Sunday, July 25, 2010

Watermelon Salsa

The dog days of Summer are in full swing here in Steamboat. If you were to venture downtown you would see tons of tourists and locals alike biking or tubing down the Yampa wearing nothing but bikinis with beers in hand, smiling and soaking up the hot sun. This, I know is not technically the "dog days" since that usually refers to temperatures so hot that all outdoor activities cease and you lie around like, well, dogs. However, in Steamboat this is about as close as we come. The sun is intense in the mountains so even though it's only 85 degrees out, believe me it's hot. It's wonderful really because you can still enjoy all of what summer has to offer outdoors and not be a sweaty, blistering mess, unless you are mountain biking. Or, if you are not feeling all that sporty, you can just sit out on your pergola with a nice book, kids biking in the long circular drive way snacking away on a refreshing bowl of watermelon salsa. That's what we decided to do on this beautiful Sunday and I just sat there happy, full of the food and the spirit of Summer. Relaxed and refreshed are initially what I think after we have had a day like this. And that watermelon salsa? It does wonders to promote that.

Watermelon salsa might sound odd to you and that's OK. It did to me too until I had some. My friend Danielle whipped up a batch and I sampled it when I went to her house this past week for a play date. I have had her Mom's pineapple salsa before and let me tell you, that's a winner also and if I ever get the recipe I promise to post it as well. I thought the notion of pineapple salsa was sort of strange at first too. I mean, it would be perfectly OK to accent fish or put on top of something as an accompaniment, but to be the star attraction eaten with a tortilla chip was nutty in my opinion. I was wrong. And that's exactly how this watermelon version is eaten too. I think it's best served with a pita chip, although tortilla would work fine. The best way I could describe this would be to say it's "the person who doesn't like raw tomatoes answer to pico de gallo" It's a version of pico although WAY better than the original (this is coming form a person who hates raw tomatoes though). It's slightly sweet from the watermelon but once you get past that it's pretty complex. Faintly garlicky, slightly sour, onion-y goodness in the back ground...ugh, it's just refreshing and light and perfect for your hot summer days.

I like pita chips with this as I said before because they are crunchier than tortilla chips and also compliment the salsa better in my opinion. Especially if you can get the garlic and herb version. I know, now you do think I'm nuts. Trust me though, the garlic and herb pita chip matched with this salsa is perfection.

This salsa will create quite a bit of juice if kept longer than a hour or so but it's fine, actually encouraged as the flavor only improves. If you have extra, keep it in the fridge in Tupperware and it will be good for about a week, ready to go when you are.

Watermelon Salsa
adapted from Kathy Nichols recipe file

1/4 of a seedless watermelon, rinds removed cut into small dice
1/2 a green bell pepper, cut into small dice
3 scallions, diced
1/2 a head of cilantro, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice from 2 juicy limes
2 1/2 tablespoons diced pickled jalapenos*
a hearty pinch or two of kosher salt

*diced pickled jalapenos can be found in the condiments section of the grocery store

combine everything into a medium sized bowl and stir. Taste. This recipe isn't an exact science so tweak the quantity of ingredients based on your tastes. (I had to add a bit more watermelon as mine was small to begin with) Let sit for at least 10 minutes or up to overnight.

Serves 4 in theory (served 2 1/2 at my house)

This recipe can easily be doubled for a larger crowd. I used these exact measurements in my recipe today except for adding in an extra slice of watermelon to brighten the whole thing up since it was predominately green to start out with. It should be an even mixture of pink to green. Ahh, now to get back to my relaxing afternoon! Happy weekend everyone.