What's Cara Cooking? Grilled Watermelon!

What's Cara Cooking? Grilled Watermelon!

Cara Frank, L.OM. 

It’s July. The farmers markets have been exploding! It’s been an awesome peach and blueberry year! And- until this weekend, I just haven’t much in the mood to cook.

I’ve had two close relatives die. Two secretarys quit. I’ve hired two new ones. I’ve had two new acupuncturists join the practice. After two years, I got my manuscript back from the publisher for editing. I quit as director of my herb program. I sent my kid to Korea. I’ve been busy, distracted, heartsick and fretful. I’ve had friends worried about me.

Finally, this weekend there was a little breathing space to regroup. I was inspired to cook. Those who know me, know that I cook for pleasure, for creative expression and to nurture my loved ones and myself. I didn’t know I was going to throw a dinner party until, along with amazing favorable weather, at exactly 3:30 on Friday afternoon, I commanded my guests to come.

here’s what I made:

A spatchcocked chicken with lemon. OK- Eric made this. He’s the chicken whisperer. No one can cook chicken this way, this well, in the entire universe.

The rest of the menu was mine:

Last Sunday I decided that, in the midday heat, it was a really great idea to weed the garden for 3 hours. The mosquitos that drank half my blood are really appreciative. 10 minutes of that time was spent harvesting all the baby kale I had grown because it was beginning to get buggy and I didn’t want to lose the “crop” (sound of farmer’s laughing- sound of urban farmers cheering).

I washed it tenderly and stored it. So- I had a kale situation. The solution was a lovely kale salad with gorgeous fat organic blueberries that a beloved patient brought me, along with hazelnuts. I made a quick vinaigrette with hazelnut oil and that really nice orange vinegar from Trader Joe’s. Nothing else needed.

Then: Delightful pink potatoes from the Headhouse Square farmers market. What could be prettier? I harvested the entire handful of green beans I grew in my city garden and made a classic French potato salad with green beans, red onion and Dijon vinaigrette. Served warm. Mmmmmmm.

A few Portobello caps with nothing but olive oil because I couldn’t’ be bothered and they needed to be cooked.

The final course was grilled watermelon with feta and mint. When did watermelon and feta become ubiquitous? Last year? Seriously: I was at the that amazing 4th of July party in the far north Catskills. You know- the one with the magical train stop that leaves from Bushwick and deposits you north of Margaretville. Everyone is gorgeous and interesting and only a teensy bit pretentious. In the amazing potluck food tent, there were at least a 10 different watermelon and feta concoctions. OK- so I drank the feta-watermelon Kool-Aid and decided to grill it, like I saw on the cover on one of the food magazines. If you Google grilled watermelon, there are a number of pretty great ideas. Yogurt sauces; small pieces, large pieces, smoking it, etc.

In Chinese Herbal Medicine, watermelon is used medicinally to clear summer heat. We call it Xi Gua. It treats thirst and scanty urination, which is another way of saying that it is cooling and hydrating. Mint is called Bo He and is also widely used medicinally to sooth the throat and eyes and to clear fevers. 

But I digress: I like large pieces of everything that I grill because a) it’s less stuff to turn and b) they are less likely to fall through the grates. I debated: brush with olive oil? Don’t brush with olive oil? I opted for the olive oil because how else would you get grill marks on the fruit?

Throw the watermelon on the grill. It should be HOT. It’s especially nice if your fig tree has died and you have some fig branches to throw on the grill for that Mediterranean ‘je ne sai quoi flavor. Grill until there’s pretty grill marks on the slices. Flip it and grill the other side. Be sure to put them on a plate that will make the pink/red POP! Mix together olive oil and good quality balsamic salt and pepper and drizzle on top. Sprinkle some feta and fresh mint on top- maybe half cup. Eat with a knife and fork. This one- it’s a keeper. 

About Cara Frank, L.OM.

Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised by in a health food store in Brooklyn NY. When she was 8 she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 30 years she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. 1n 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with herbs and has never recovered.

Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts in Philadelphia where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of the office. She is also the president of China Herb Company. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.

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“I am in significantly less pain after my massage with Leigh. I appreciate her ability to do her work with such presence and intuition about what my body needs in that moment. She has a gift.”

L.C., Licensed Acupuncturist