T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Watermelon Ginger Margarita

Well, it’s September; the kids are back in school, nights are cooler and the days have been more mild here in the Hudson Valley. But, it is still summer! We’re not quite ready to let it go, and scored some beautiful watermelons from Mead Orchards this week. In celebration of the last weeks of summer and the coming of fall, we’ve put together an absolutely delicious cocktail that celebrates both. The fresh watermelon juice is great even on it’s own, but we’ve added some warmth with a house made ginger simple syrup and assembled an unconventional margarita that won rave reviews at the Trattoria over the week. In fact, the term “luscious” was used. 🙂 People loved it so much, we will have it available for you again this weekend, so stop in and enjoy one!

Watermelon Ginger Margarita
2 oz. Fresh Watermelon Juice (we made ours with a centrifugal juicer, but you can also use a muddle and strain method)
1 oz. Ginger Simple Syrup*
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
2 oz. Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
While we made our Ginger Simple Syrup with Sugar in the Raw to add extra depth, you can opt to use regular granular sugar or the following:
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Cups Granular Sugar
3 Cups Water
2 Cups peeled, sliced fresh ginger
Add all ingredients to pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a low boil and let cook for 25-30 minutes. The syrup should be sweet and spicy. This will make more than you will need for one drink, but it can be used in many more recipes. If you would like to keep this in the fridge to use over a few weeks, in order to avoid spoilage, once the syrup has cooled add 1/4 cup clear alcohol (vodka works well as it is a neutral spirit.)

Watermelon-Fennel Salad

This is a great end of summer salad. It provides a refreshing contrast of flavors and textures – crunchy sweet watermelon and fennel; salty, creamy feta; and ever so slightly bitter greens. It is perfect with grilled or seared fish or chicken, or simply on its own as simple first course. Don’t be afraid to add or substitute. Experiment!

Makes 4 servings

2 cups watermelon, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
¼  red onion,very thinly sliced
¼ fennel bulb,thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon diced jalapeno pepper
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to season
1 cup crumbled Farm feta
4 cups baby greens

In a mixing bowl, combine the watermelon, onion, fennel, mint, jalapeno, lime juice and zest and grapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper and gently stir. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. When ready to serve, mound about 1 cup of baby greens on each plate; divide the watermelon-fennel salad over the greens. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the salad.

Serving suggestions: Serve the watermelon-feta mixture chilled on its own or over baby greens.

Variations:

* Mix it up using a combination of yellow and red watermelon.
* Substitute any young soft cheese, such as goat cheese, for the feta.

Nutrition: Watermelon gets its vibrant color from lycopene, the same potent antioxidant found in tomatoes. It is also a good source of vitamins A and C and potassium.

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.