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Originally published Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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Cool down with sweet and savory watermelon recipes

Easy to make recipes for Watermelon-Feta Salad and Watermelon Pico de Gallo

McClatchy Newspapers

Growing up in Denton, Texas, I remember tasting watermelon that was so sweet that we'd sprinkle salt on the oversize, half-moon slices to balance the flavors.

Eating the wedges was always an adventure — the watermelon itself was no match for the flimsy white paper plates — and the seeds ... what were we supposed to do if not spit them at each other?

Let's face it, watermelon's just fun. Its striped outside and bright pink, black polka-dot middle give it a visual appeal like no other fruit, and the taste — such sweet goodness! A slice of icy watermelon on a hot day is what summer's all about, if you ask me.

Besides all of that, as you might expect, watermelon is mostly water (92 percent), and it's good for you, too, full of vitamins A, C and B6, and potassium. The big green guy originated in Africa and was cultivated by the Egyptians, and it wasn't until the 1600s, sources say, that watermelon was introduced to the rest of the world. Maybe they needed to build bigger ships? Now, there are more than 1,200 varieties.

Here are two savory recipes for watermelon.

WATERMELON-FETA SALAD

This is my version of what's becoming a classic watermelon salad. The cool, crunchy melon and mint offset the creamy, salty feta and kalamata olives, and the lime brightens up the whole crazy-sounding combination.

Makes 4 servings

2 pounds watermelon, cut in 1-inch cubes

Handful of mint, roughly chopped

10 kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Small red onion (about 2 tablespoons), diced

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Juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

7 ounces feta

Additional mint, for serving

Pepper

Put everything except the feta in a large bowl and toss gently so the watermelon pieces stay whole. Refrigerate for an hour. Before serving, add the feta, a bit more mint and cracked pepper.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 194 calories, 13 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 44 milligrams cholesterol, 941 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 58 percent of calories from fat.

WATERMELON PICO DE GALLO

I love this on top of grilled fish, shrimp or scallops, and served on tostadas. Or mix the seafood into the pico, spoon onto lettuce and serve as a first course.

Makes about 6 servings

2 medium tomatoes, diced

16 ounces watermelon, diced (try to make the watermelon pieces slightly larger than the tomato)

1 tablespoon red onion, diced

1 jalapeño, chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Put everything in a medium bowl, gently toss, and refrigerate for an hour. Adjust seasoning.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 25 calories, trace fat, 5 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 162 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 11 percent of calories from fat.

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