There are three things synonymous with the start of summer: the last day of school, Memorial Day weekend, and slicing into the first watermelon of the season.
To me watermelon is the hallmark of summer, and there is something about slicing into that first one of the season. It takes me back to those glorious summer days as a kid, not a care in the world, watermelon in hand with juice dripping down my chin, onto my arms, and finally onto my hands. A sticky but glorious mess. Now my kids do the same thing. I could buy all the popsicles and ice cream in the world, but it's the watermelon they go crazy for.
Celebrate summer with watermelon. Why make things harder on yourself by making all the traditional sides for your summer cookout? Leave the stove off, fire up the grill, and grab a watermelon. Get a few platters. Slice up some watermelon for the kids on one. Slice up some more for the adults on another. Garnish the adult watermelon like this, with a fresh mint and lime syrup, and enjoy. It's economical, it's easy, and it's much healthier than most of the traditional cookout sides. We loved it!
Watermelon with Fresh Mint and Lime
Adapted from Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone
1/3 cup sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/2 large oval watermelon
Stir the sugar, 2 tablespoons water, the lime zest, and 1-1/2 tablespoons of the lime juice together in a small heavy saucepan over high heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil. Let the syrup cool completely and then refrigerate it until cold.
Strain the chilled syrup into a small bowl and stir in the mint (this seems like a fussy step to me so I didn't strain). Allow the mint to infuse into the syrup for at least 5 minutes.
Place the watermelon, cut side down, on a work surface. Using a large sharp knife, cut the watermelon horizontally to form a 2-inch-thick slab. (Reserve the remaining watermelon for another use). Trim away the rind, and then cut the slab into 2-inch chunks. Transfer the watermelon chunks to a large serving platter, keeping the chunks in a single layer and maintaining the shape of the slab. Pour the cold syrup over the watermelon, and serve.
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