Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gingery Watermelon Paletas

An outspoken proponent of my own vegetable anxiety, this week I found myself in the same emotional boat for another type of produce: fruit! Unable to resist the lush strawberries, plums, nectarines, and cherries displayed in all their warm-hued glory at the farmers market, I happily piled my grocery bag with cartons of fruit— then swung by the corner market and lugged a very heavy half-watermelon all the way home. (Arm work-out for the day. No three pound weights for me.)

So there I was, sweaty yet triumphant sitting amongst my ample summer fruit selection, and wondering how I was going to eat it all before the July 4th holiday. Freeze it? Make a pie? Cobbler? Jam? much effort in my tiny hot apartment and this solo fan is just not helping in the motivation department. I picked up my latest issue of Bon Appetit, idly flipping through, and stopped at a beautiful rose-colored display of cold, luscious treats. "Pretty in Pink," read the headline. "Two of the best things about summer: super-ripe produce and frosty dessert." Score!!
And so were these Gingery Watermelon Paletas born. I am very fond of paletas, as mentioned in my Cucumber-Lime Paletas post; the Mexican ice pops are known for their unexpected whirl of flavor from spice or flowers— a welcomed deviation from the plain old fruit & sugar combination. I was immediately intrigued by this recipe because it mixed some of my favorite Asian flavors—ginger and lime—with naturally sweet watermelon, requiring little added sugar to achieve this saccharine & spicy bite. I also added a dash of cayenne pepper to enhance that flavor juxtaposition—if you are adventurous, try chili powder too.

The Greek yogurt in this recipe creates a creamy paleta texture rather than icy; the result is a substantive pop that yields more body than just the pureed fleshy watermelon on its own. Equally fruity and frosty, this paleta is quite the summer refresher and a must for keeping cool.

Gingery Watermelon Paletas (from Bon Appetit July 2013 issue)
Yields: 10 paletas

4 cups cubed seedless watermelon (from about half a 5-lb watermelon)
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger
Pinch of kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar (can adjust depending on taste; start with half and increase accordingly.)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Special equipment: ice-pop molds or ice-cube trays

1. Puree watermelon, yogurt, ginger, salt, sugar, and lime juice in a blender until smooth. (Add more sugar if desired.)
2. Divide puree among ice-pop molds. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. If inserting popsicle sticks into molds, insert after 60 minutes of freezing, and use stick to stir mixture in molds to blend.

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