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Simple Sides: Watermelon, Soup or Salad

By Dennis Linden

Here are two recipes that your kids can help prepare for the family’s backyard BBQ menu using this iconic summer favorite in a side dish that requires no cooking.
Image of School Mascot with Kids
This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with two uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe options. The dishes will be centered around seasonal fresh produce item and easy enough to prepare so that a child of any age can help in contributing to the family meal. While many of these recipes may seem very basic, this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will lay the culinary foundation necessary to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their confidence in the kitchen grows. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.

The competing schedules of today’s busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can even be great fun. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.
Image of Red Seedless Watermelonn
Summertime, kids and watermelon are a very classic combination. Here are two recipes that your kids can help prepare for the family’s backyard BBQ menu using this iconic summer favorite in a side dish that requires no cooking. Let your kitchen crew make the culinary decision of whether it will be soup or salad. No doubt they will want to try both before the season is over!

Recipe I Lesson Plan: Watermelon Gazpacho
This quick and easy recipe has tasks for all ages. All the ingredients are going to end up in a blender or food processor, so the knife work in chopping up the cucumber, red bell pepper and herbs needs no special precision. That makes this a great opportunity for an older child to practice his or her knife skills. For a younger child, even a plastic knife will cut through watermelon – so arm him or her with a large bib or cover them with a towel and watch out for flying seeds!

The soup has such a distinctive and delicious flavor, the kids responsible will certainly gain confidence as the whole family enjoys seconds – so make enough to feed everyone twice, as well as your sous chefs’ egos!

Recipe II Lesson Plan: Watermelon Summer Salad
A more careful approach to cubing the watermelon should be emphasized for this recipe. The delicate cubes need to be handled gently so their shape is maintained for presentation in the tasty salad. Cutting the baby spinach leaves into stripes with a dull kitchen scissors can be assigned to even a child too young to use a knife. This is a rather tedious job; it would be a good idea for the supervising adult to pitch-in, so the task goes quick enough for a youngster’s attention span. Shredding carrots through a grater is a fun job for any age kid.

For an older child, this holds another great dressing lesson. A dressing, especially this tasty ginger-lime combination, is something that your kids will remember and replicate for the rest of their culinary lives. If your child has some knife experience, focus on the “finely minced” cut needed for the garlic, ginger and shallot. It’s the secret to any good dressing. If you have a younger assistant still learning the art of slicing and dicing, a small blender, like Cuisinart’s Smart Stick, will quickly turn any rough-chopped ingredients into the small bits needed for this recipe.

Recipe I
Watermelon Gazpacho
Serves 4
Image of Watermelon Gazpacho
8 cups Seedless Watermelon, chopped small
1 medium Cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
½ large Red Bell Pepper, chopped
2 ounces Fresh Basil, chopped
2 ounces cup Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
¾ teaspoon Salt

What the kids can do under adult supervision:
  1. Prepare and measure out all ingredients.
  2. Combine in a large bowl and gently mix thoroughly.
  3. Purée the mixture in small amounts in a blender or food processor until bowl is empty.
  4. Transfer each puréed portion to another large bowl.
  5. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Recipe II
Watermelon Summer Salad
Serves 6
Image of Watermelon Summer Salad
6 ounces Baby Spinach Leaves, cut into strips
3 cups Shredded Carrots
3 cups small Cubes of Seedless Watermelon
1 cup Japanese-Style Ginger Dressing***
1 cup Toasted Sliced Almonds

***Dressing Ingredients (whisk or use blender to combine)
1 clove Garlic, finely minced
1 medium Shallot, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Ginger, peeled and minced
½ Tablespoon Organic Blue Agave Syrup
3 ounces Lime Juice
6 ounces Extra Virgin Olive

What the kids can do under adult supervision:
  1. Prepare and measure out all salad ingredients.
  2. Prepare and measure out all dressing ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients, except the almonds.
  4. In a small bowl combine all dressing ingredients and either whisk together or run through a blender for 30 seconds.
  5. Pour salad dressing over salad, toss thoroughly, and sprinkle almonds over the top.
  6. Serve family style.
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