By Amy Pennington / GoGo Green Garden

Summer came late to the Pacific NW this year, and that means everything is running a little bit behind – including produce. Many fruits and vegetables that we expect to be eating in August are either coming in now or still at the farmers markets. Before it’s too late, make it your mission to get to your local farmers market and stock up.

Melons, which are members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family, have a long history of culinary uses dating back to BC wherein its culture can be traced to Persia, India and Africa. They come in many more shapes and sizes that the typical American grocery store version, with thicker green-tinted rind and tan webbing (typically the Cucumis melo reticulatus), and fall under the Muskmelon genus (Cucumis melo) which includes Cantaloupe, Casaba, Canary, Honeydew, Charentais and many more.  Melons come in a rainbow of shapes and sizes – some as small as the palm of your hand, some long and slim like a banana.  I’ve seen pictures of football-shaped fruits as well, but have yet to try one. The flesh, too, ranges in color from the cantaloupe-orange in a Charentais to sweet yellow-fleshed watermelons. Some have soft white fruit when you slice them open, as you’ll find in some Casabas, which are almost watery-sweet as if holding back and challenging you to eat more.

Melons can be used in creative ways once you’ve got them home safe and sound in your kitchen. They are a healthy snack full of antioxidants, but can be used as more than something to dice up and nibble on. Low in calories, but flavor dense, melons are quite juicy and can easily be pureed for use in frosty summer drinks or whizzed up with yogurt for a morning smoothie.  Cubed melon of all kinds (honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon) goes well with savory additions such as basil or mint leaves and some crumbled feta cheese for an easy salad course.

This chilled soup is another melon winner. Summer perfection.

Honeydew Cucumber Soup

Satisfying and refreshing, this soup is a total winner for an easy summer meal.  Jalapeno adds a little heat and the cilantro helps to cool your palate.  This makes a huge batch – enough for a family dinner with leftovers, but works well if you prefer to half it.

  • 1 ripe Honeydew Melon, peeled & seeded
  • 3 to 4 cucumbers, peeled & seeded
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (either whole or non-fat)
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • Handful of cilantro leaves (more or less, as you please)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • Salt to taste

Puree honeydew flesh in food processor until smooth.  Line a large, deep bowl with cheesecloth, and pour in the puree.  Gather up the ends and suspend the puree over the bowl, tying around a wooden spoon, so that juices can collect in the bowl below.  Yield 4 cups of liquid (and compost leftover pulp).  Set aside.   Add cucumbers to food processer and puree until smooth.  Add yogurt, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice and honey dew juice and puree until combined.  Chill and serve.

Recipe originally published in Edible Seattle