Friday, August 9, 2019

Chili-Lime Melon Salad. (Wait... Chili?) Yes. Chili.

This week was National Night Out - as many of you probably already know. Our neighborhood goes pretty all out for it. The past few years we've gathered around a few grills and some potluck-covered tables while the kids enjoyed a bounce house (and the parents of those kids got progressively more and more nervous as the kids got more and more adventurous).

This year, there was a fiesta theme, complete with face painting and piƱata, so I decided to make a summer salad that has some south-of-the-border flavors: chili powder, lime, and Cotija cheese.

It's a recipe that I've made once before when we had some friends over for brunch, and people really seemed to like it, so I thought I'd go for it again. (Plus, it's quick, easy, and fairly cheap - things I definitely enjoy when making food for a crowd.)

Allow me to explain:
I have NO idea what I was doing during what became the freezeframe image for this video. But... HOORAY!

So, yeah... This is, once again, a recipe from The Smitten Kitchen. You can find it on her website, here. (Because it's a pretty simple recipe, I'm not going to type it all out, here.)

Here are the basics that you need:

  • 4 cups of assorted melon (I went for watermelon and cantaloupe)
  • Some lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of cilantro
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • Some Cotija cheese
  • Some course salt
  • Toasted/salted pepitas (which are what's "inside" a pumpkin seed)

The hardest part of this whole process is getting the melon into bite-size pieces. Well, that and - depending where you live - finding the Cotija cheese and the pepitas. But, around here in Minneapolis you can get Cotija cheese either as a chunk or as crumbles. (As you probably saw in the first video, I went for the crumbles.)

The pepitas can be ordered online, if you need to go that way, but I got mine from the bulk section of my local grocery store. The last time I made this salad, I used raw ones and toasted them myself. This time, I picked some up right across the produce section from the melons and the cilantro.

So, here we have photos of balling melons, which is really the main piece of work:

Here's how exciting it looks to use a cookie scoop as a melon baller.
Yeah... not much activity in this recipe when you come right down to it.
Recommendation: If you have a cutting board that is grooved for meat, it's also good for cutting juicy fruit. (Not the gum.)
Bonus to using a melon baller: I really kind of love the designs you get in the melon rinds. 

Feel free to ooohh and ahhh, at any point.

And, since this is a really easy recipe, this all goes directly into the bowl you'll be serving it in.

Then you add in all of the other stuff. Which, honestly, is just a whole lot of dumping things together. 

So, instead of just showing you the final photo, here's the wrap-up video, first: 

Now, with not quite a month of summer left - and watermelon at its freshest of the year - why not try a new way of eating it? (The Smitten Kitchen and I would never steer you wrong!)

Oh - And if you're wondering what to do with all that juice that builds up in the watermelon rind while you're making melon balls, here's one recommendation:
After all, it's basically a giant bowl/cup, right? 
How've you been? Any cooking questions come up while I've been gone? Let me know if there's anything I can try to answer!

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