DIVAS ON A DIME: Easy melon salsa is taste of summer

By Patti Diamond

Melon salsa and chips. (www.JasonCoblentz.com)

Hello! I’m so happy to meet you. I’m Patti Diamond, AKA Diva Patti, the recipe developer and content creator for “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal Meets Fabulous.” I got the nickname Diva Patti in my former career as a musical theater professional. I was quite the soprano back in the day.

I believe everyone should live like a diva, even if they’re living on a dime. My passion is finding inexpensive ways to make extraordinary things happen in the kitchen and in life. I love to help people save money on their food budget because I think we have better things to spend our money on, like paying off debt, saving for retirement or buying more shoes. If you agree, then we’re going to be great friends! Let’s get cookin’!

Don’t you love it when something that costs as little as 20 cents per pound can be dressed up to take any occasion from every day to elegant?

Few things say “summer” like a big slice of cold, juicy melon. Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melons exemplify the beautiful colors and sweet taste of summer. In season from June to September, choose melons without soft spots, heavy for their size and slightly sweet-smelling at the stem end. Here are some wonderful ways to make the most of your melon:

Infused Water — The simplest thing to do with melon is make infused water. Mint and melon are a lovely refreshing pairing. Just add chopped melon and a few sprigs of mint to a pitcher of water and let it chill for a few hours or overnight. In the summer months, it’s nice to have infused water in beautiful glasses to offer as soon as guests arrive. It’s a lovely way to say, “I’ve been expecting you.” Add a splash of club soda just before serving for a little fizz.

Sweetly Savory Appetizer — Want an irresistible hors d’oeuvre? Serve any melon sliced and wrapped with deli meat. Traditionally, you’d see cantaloupe with prosciutto, but that’s rather expensive. Thinly sliced deli ham or smoked turkey give that same sweet, smoky, savory combination at a fraction of the cost.

Melon Salsa Fresca — If you like your sweet with a little heat, you’ll love this. In a mixing bowl, combine the zest and juice of 1 lime, 1/2 tablespoon honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 3 cups mixed melon, diced; 3/4 cup cucumber, diced; 1/2 cup any color bell pepper, minced; 1/4 cup red onion, minced; 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped; and one small jalapeno pepper, finely minced, with ribs and seeds removed. (Use caution when working with jalapenos.) Gently mix and chill. Serve with your favorite chips, over grilled chicken, in fish tacos or a grain bowl, or green salad, — just put it on everything!

Summer Sangria — Add mixed melon to your favorite white wine. This is when to use boxed wine, or as I call it “Chateaux Cardboardaux.” Into a large pitcher, place 3 cups of vino, a healthy shot of brandy, 1 tablespoon sugar, a few sprigs of fresh basil and melon balls to your heart’s content. Serve over ice, mixed with sparkling water.

Melon Vodka — Let’s upgrade some inexpensive vodka. Place chopped melon in a clean jar and top off with vodka. Pop that in the fridge at least three days, the longer the better. This makes an excellent martini with a twist of lime, or a Melon Mule, which is melon vodka with ginger ale and lime juice over ice. Don’t throw away that fruit! Remember, boozy fruit is the best fruit.

As you plan your summer celebration, be sure to put melon on your shopping list. Versatile, inexpensive, frugal and fabulous … now that’s using your melon.


Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com


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