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Waiting for Watermelon

Waiting for Watermelon

By Rita Demontis, National Food Editor, QMI Agency
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June 23, 2010

We're opening wide for World Cup soccer.

Everywhere you turn the flags are flowing, the energy's pumping, and it seems the whole world has stopped its regular routine to participate in this beloved sport.

Whether your an armchair athletic, or really play the game, it's all about fun, health and cheering on your favourite country.

And if you're one of the gazillion fans planning on hosting a World Cup party this month, keep the foods light and breezy, and incorporate foods reflective of the countries participating.

And -- soccer's one popular game, and one of the fastest growing sports in North America. Research shows that in Canada more than 870,000 Canadians are registered to play soccer, either recreationally or professionally The worldwide in-home television audience for the 2006 World Cup was over 24 billion, with Canada accounting for 4 million viewers alone.

That's enough to build up an appetite!

Getting into the spirit of the game, the National Watermelon Promotion Board put together a selection of internationally inspired dishes that are sure to add flare and flavour to your soccer celebration:

ITALY: Balsamic Caramelized Onion Caprese: Italy is known for its fresh produce and competitive nature. Currently ranked fifth in FIFA standings, this homage to the team features juicy watermelon in place of the traditional tomato and is drizzled with aged balsamic for a classic finish. Forza, gruppo!

SPAIN: Gambas A La Plancha Con SandÌa (Grilled Shrimp with Watermelon): In honour of FIFA's number two ranking team, this popular Spanish tapas features fresh shrimp grilled in a lemongrass and watermelon glaze.

MEXICO: Watermelon Agua Fresca: Keep hydrated with this refreshing natural beverage. Originating from Mexico (17th in FIFA standings) and popular throughout Central America, Watermelon Agua Fresca makes a nice non-alcoholic alternative.

Enjoy the following courtesy of the Watermelon Promotion Board., For more recipes and ideas along with plenty of health information, check out Watermelon.org.

BALSAMIC CARAMELIZED ONION CAPRESE

This homage to an Italian staple features sweet caramelized onions sautÈed in balsamic vinegar, spooned over cut watermelon and slices of creamy buffalo mozzarella. Garnish with fresh basil for a delicious, light summer salad.

1/4 cup (50ml) olive oil

1 large sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup (125ml) extra dry vermouth

2 Tbsp. (30ml) sugar

1/4 cup (50ml) aged balsamic vinegar

1 lb. (500 g) buffalo mozzarella, sliced into 15 slices

15 squares of watermelon cut 2-1/2-inches (6 cm) wide, 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick

1 cup (250ml) fresh basil leaves

In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes until onions are golden in colour and slightly toasted. Reduce heat to medium. Add vermouth and sugar to pan and simmer until most of iquid has evaporated from pan. Stir in balsamic and saute another few minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Alternate slices of mozzarella and watermelon on a serving platter or up to 4 individual salad plates. Spoon onion mixture over watermelon and mozzarella slices. Garnish with fresh basil.

Serves 8.

WATERMELON WHEAT CRUNCH

Kick start the day with this flavourful breakfast containing juicy watermelon, grapes and one serving each of dairy and grains. It's fuel for the whole day!

4 cups (1L) seedless watermelon balls

2 cups (500ml) whole or halved, seedless grapes

2 cups (500ml) crumbled shredded wheat cereal

2 cups (500ml) blueberry yogurt, divided

1/2 tsp. (2ml) ground cinnamon, divided

In a medium bowl, tosswatermelon balls and grapes together, set aside. Divide shredded wheat among 4 cereal bowls. Add 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) of watermelon mixture to each bowl. Spoon 1/2 cup (125 ml) yogurt over watermelon and grapes. Sprinkle each with cinnamon and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

GAMBAS A LA PLANCHA CON SANDÌA

(Grilled Shrimp with Watermelon)

Pairing the fruit of the earth with the fruit of the sea, this Western take on the popular Spanish tapas offers succulent shrimp bathed in a delectable sweet and sour watermelon marinade, creating a mouth-watering medley that can become addictive.

2 Tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. (15ml) minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp./5ml ginger powder)

2 Tbsp. (30ml) minced fresh lemongrass (or 1 tsp./5ml dry shredded)

1/4 cup (50ml) extra dry vermouth

2 tsp. (10ml) soy sauce or to taste

1 cup (250 ml) watermelon puree

1/2 cup (125ml) sugar

2 lb. (1 kg) peeled medium-sized shrimp, skewered

Make glaze by heating oil in a 2- or 3-quart (2 L or 3 L) saucepan over medium high heat and in it saute garlic, ginger and lemongrass for a few minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in vermouth, soy sauce, watermelon and sugar. Divide mixture in two, setting aside one half for serving as glaze/drizzle. Note: do not mix liquid from two halves to avoid contaminating glaze/drizzle.

Over medium-high heat, grill skewered shrimp basting occasionally until shrimp are cooked and opaque, about 5 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8.

WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA

Agua Fresca, Spanish for fresh, cold waters, is a combination of watermelon, water, fruit and honey blended together and served ice cold. This is the perfect beverage to enjoy on a backyard patio.

4 cups (1L) seedless watermelon, cut into chunks, divided

1 cup (250ml) cold water, divided

1 Tbsp. (15ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (or to taste)

1 TBSP. (15ML) honey (or to taste)

Ice cubes

Garnish:

Watermelon triangles

Lime wedges

Blend half OF atermelon pieces with 1/2 cup (125 mL) of water until smooth. Strain into serving pitcher. Repeat process with remaining watermelon and water. Add lime juice and honey to taste. Stir until blended. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with watermelon triangles skewered with lime wedges.

SERVES 4.

WAY TO GO WATERMELON

Did you know:

- Watermelon has 92% water content and is an excellent hydrator. Water plays a vital role in regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients and oxygen to cells, removing waste, cushioning joints and protecting organs and tissues.

- Watermelon is low in fat and cholesterol-free.

- Watermelon is an excellent source of an important amino acid, citrulline. The human body uses citrulline to make another important amino acid "arginine" which plays a key role in cell division, wound healing and the removal of ammonia.

- Watermelon contains high levels of the antioxidant lycopene -- a 2 cup (500ml) serving of watermelon contains 18.16 mg.

- A diet containing foods high in potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Watermelon is low in sodium and a source of potassium.

- A healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

Watermelon is a good source of the following (per 1 cup/250ml):

- Vitamin C : a factor in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums

- Niamine (vitamin B1): releases energy from carbohydrates and aids in normal growth

- Vitamin B6 (also a source of pantothenic acid and magnesium) : a factor in energy metabolism and tissue formation

- And a source of vitamin A : aids in normal bone and tooth development, maintaining the health of the skin and membranes

And at only 51 calories per 1 cup serving -- it's the perfect choice for satisfying that sweet tooth yet watching your calorie intake.


 

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