Ingredient SpotLight

Melons are round or oval and easily transportable in their own protective carrying case, which makes them perfect for summertime picnics. They are sweet, juicy, and flavorful once ripe. Originating in India, melons now come in a variety of colors and kinds, including hybrids.

Melons grow on trailing vines and belong to the same family as cucumbers, marrows and squashes. They contain only about half the sugar content of an apple or pear, weight for weight. Also, melon is ideal for a calorie-controlled diet as it has very high water content.

What have become accepted uses for melon include fresh eating, fruit salads, mixed drinks and the occasional relish. So, to mix things up a bit, I thought I'd feature a couple recipes that have melons involved in the main course! Enjoy.

Watermelon-Glazed Chicken

  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 skinless, boneless single chicken breasts
  • 4 cups cubed, seeded watermelon to produce about 2 cups strained liquid
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 1/2 tbsp. juice)
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup white corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl or sealable plastic bag, combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Add the chicken breasts, making sure liquid reaches all of them. Refrigerate, turning once or twice, at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: In a food processor, puree the watermelon and strain to remove seed bits and pulp, pressing the liquid through the sieve. This should yield about 2 cups of liquid. Drink any extra — it's lovely!

In a heavy saucepan, combine the watermelon liquid, lemon juice, lemon zest, corn syrup and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, until glaze is quite syrupy. Keep warm until serving.

Discard marinade and grill or broil chicken breasts 4 or 5 minutes per side or until cooked through.

Coat each breast lightly with warm glaze and pass the remainder.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Honey-Lime Chops with Melon

  • 1 pound boneless loin roast, sliced into 4 equal pieces
  • 1/2 cup melon (cantaloupe or honeydew), pureed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 (1/2-inch) thick slices cantaloupe or honeydew, peeled

In small saucepan, combine pureed melon, honey, lime juice, butter and curry powder.

Stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Brush chop surfaces with sauce.

Beat together cream cheese, milk, and some of the sauce until smooth and of desired consistency. Set aside.

In a covered grill, over indirect heat, grill chops, basting often with sauce and turning once, about 15 minutes. Transfer to serving platter and keep warm. Brush melon slices with remaining basting sauce and grill directly over coals, about 2 minutes on each side.

To serve, place a chop on a slice of melon, garnish with a dollop of cream cheese mixture and dust lightly with nutmeg.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes