A Cooling Combination

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There are hints of fall in the air. Crisp breeze, cool nights, and the alluring scent of ripe melons. After the hustle and bustle of a CSA morning, I was ready for a sweet, juicy meal. Some vine-ripened tomatoes, melons and cucumbers were calling to me, and I set out to combine these juicy fruits into a satisfying salad.

I grabbed a Sugar Baby melon, some Lemon cucumbers, a Green Zebra & a Striped German tomato. And here’s what I came up with:

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It may sound like a strange combination, but the flavors play off each other really well. The basil – or some herb – and lemon is definitely important to meld it all together. And texturally, it’s really nice. Crunchy cucumber, crisp melon, fleshy tomato. I’m sure this salad would taste pretty good with some feta cheese or something similar, if you’re into that kind of thing. Or give the salad some smokiness by grilling the watermelon first…! Yum.

This salad also happens to be packed with vitamins and minerals. Watermelon is full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phenolic compounds. It’s also rich in vitamin A and C. And the seeds have some iron and zinc, so don’t use ALL of them in a seed spitting competition. Cucumbers contain lignans that improve cardiovascular health, phytonutrients that help scavenge free radicals, and compounds that improve skin complexion. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants as well, and also help to lower cholesterol. Even basil is a great nutritional addition – it’s a great source of vitamin K, iron, calcium and vitamin A. All of these fruits contain small amounts of protein…just like all vegetables…but if an all vegetable meal is still preposterous, toss in some toasted walnuts or pine nuts.

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Oh! And don’t just throw away your watermelon rind…especially if you’re getting delicious melons from your CSA or farmer’s market. If they aren’t sprayed with pesticides, they are delicious! Seriously! And they make great pickles, though what doesn’t….

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