Watermelon is one of the edible geniuses in the Cucurbitaceae family, also called the gourd family. The most important family members comprise five genuses:
Citrullus: watermelon and some other melons.
Cucurbita: squash (including pumpkin), summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini), some gourds.
Cucumis: cucumber, some melons.
Lagenaria: inedible (decorative) gourds
Luffa/loofah: a fibrous fruit that provides the loofah scrubbing sponge
Non-edible members include:
Sweet melons have long been an anticipated summer treat. Pperhaps the most beloved is watermelon: sliced and eaten as hand fruit; sipped as juice, in cocktails, fruit soup and smoothies; made into dessert as fruit salads, popsicles and sorbets; grilled as a side; added to salsa; and so much more.
Today’s tip: Consider adding watermelon to your salads. It fits as easily into savory salads as sweet fruit salads.
WATERMELON SALAD INGREDIENTS
Mix and match watermelon with these ingredients:
Cucumber (check out the different types of cucumber)
Cheese: bocconcini (mozzarella balls), feta, goat cheese, ricotta salata, other cheese
Fruit: berries, citrus, cherries, dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc.), heirloom tomatoes, mango, other melons
Greens of choice: bell peppers, endive, mesclun, romaine, radicchio
Onion: chive, red onion, scallion, sweet onions (consider pickling the onions)
Fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, mint, parsley
Protein: grilled chicken or seafood
Spicy: baby arugula, jalapeño, radishes
Also: pistachios, roasted beets, water chestnuts, whole grains for grain bowl, summer squash
Blue cheese dressing (light!)
Infused olive oil (citrus, herb)
RECIPE: WATERMELON CAPRESE SALAD
This festive salad [photo #2] can be the appetizer or the fruit and cheese course. It was created by Gina Homolka of SkinnyTaste.com.
You can combine the ingredients below into a standard watermelon salad with a balsamic dressing (cube the watermelon and cheese)
If you don’t have a large star-shaped cookie cutter, use another shape.
Half seedless watermelon, in 16 1/2-inch slices
8 thin slices fresh mozzarella
1 cup baby arugula
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (buy or make your own)
Ingredients For 8 Servings
4-inch star-shaped cookie cutter
1. CUT 16 from the watermelon. Save the trimmed watermelon for another use.
 Watermelon and cucumber: cousins in a simple salad with red onion (photo courtesy WinesOfSicily.com).  An artistic version from Gina Homolka. See more of her inspired recipes and photos at SkinnyTaste.com.  Homemade balsamic glaze (photo courtesy EatBoutique.com).  Watermelon on the vine (photo by Fred Hsu | Wikipedia).
2. ARRANGE the watermelon on a platter or individual plates. Top each with the mozzarella, arugula, 1/4 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Top with a watermelon star, drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.
CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF WATERMELON
WHAT IS BALSAMIC GLAZE?
Balsamic glaze is balsamic vinegar reduced into a syrup.
It can be used on savory and sweet foods.
No added sweetener is needed for savory uses: aged hard cheeses*, eggs, grilled meats).
Consider adding sweetener only if you plan to use the glaze on sweet dishes: berries, cooked fruit dishes, fruit salad, ice cream, pudding).
16 ounces balsamic vinegar
Pinch of coarse salt
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon honey or sugar
The better the balsamic vinegar, the better the glaze.
1. BRING the vinegar to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes. (The glaze will further thicken when it cools.)
2. REMOVE from the heat; taste and stir in the optional sweetener and salt. Let cool completely.
3. STORE in the fridge in an airtight jar.
*Hard aged cheeses include Cheddar, Cheshire, Emmental, Gouda, Gruyère, Mimolette and Parmesan/Parimigiano Reggiano, among others. It is also delicious with Roquefort and other strong blues, and with over-ripe bloomy-rinded cheeses like Brie and Camembert.