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Staff File Photo / Watermelon is often served by the slice, but don't overlook its potential in recipes, such as Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad.

Watermelon has never been at the top of my list of favorite fruits. For starters, dealing with the seeds is a miserable job — though, as a child, I enjoyed spitting them at my sister.

I ate watermelon only once a year, and that was during summer camp in North Carolina. We had a watermelon day, and the seedy fruit was a treat for most of the campers — except me. I'd take a few bites from a slice, but I found little enjoyment in it.

As I have aged, however, I have learned to enjoy a bite or two of watermelon, but only if it's ice-cold on a blistering hot day. Better yet, I find it absolutely incredible when it's in a small dish with a little goat cheese and drizzled with a sweet/tangy balsamic glaze.

If you've never had it that way, you're in for a remarkable treat. The combination is a triple play of deliciousness.

(READ MORE: Got a hankering for watermelon? These recipes offer unexpected ways to enjoy the summertime staple)

I first had it this way a few years ago at the restaurant at Montaluce Winery & Restaurant in Dahlonega, Georgia. While it's no longer on the menu, it's a taste I'll never forget.

The thickened balsamic reduction pairs beautifully with the refreshing, cold watermelon, blending in with the creamy goat cheese crumbles and vibrant mint leaves.

It's an amazingly simple salad, yet such a refresher on a hot summer day.

Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed

1 small seedless watermelon, cut into cubes

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1/4 cup mint leaves

To make the balsamic reduction, add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a slight boil, and reduce by half, simmering 6-8 minutes; set aside and let cool.

Serve watermelon on individual plates or in small bowls with goat cheese and mint, then drizzle with balsamic reduction.

 

A SANDWICH CELEBRATION

August is National Sandwich Month, just in case you don't already have it marked on your calendar. In honor of the occasion, The Co-Op Frosé & Eatery, located at 1301 Dorchester Road in the heart of Riverview, is celebrating by offering the recipe for its popular chicken sandwich, one of three signatures sandwiches the eatery offers.

(READ MORE: The Co-Op Frosé & Eatery to open in North Chattanooga)

The recipe is similar to many chicken salads I've had, including my own; however, it adds a little dill and some good whole-grain mustard to give it a little kick. I will definitely be trying it. You might, too, because chicken salad is absolutely perfect this time of year.

The Co-Op Chicken Salad

4 pounds chicken (white meat or a combination of white and dark)

3 cups of red grapes, chopped

3 cups chopped pecans

1 bunch of celery, chopped

1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped

3 cups Duke's mayonnaise

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1 tablespoon each salt and pepper

Bake chicken in a 350-degree oven until it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees. Let it cool enough to handle, then chop it into bite-size pieces.

Toast pecans at 350 degrees, carefully watching them so they don't burn. Once nicely toasted, combine with the remaining ingredients and the chicken, and serve like they do at The Co-Op, between two pieces of whole-wheat bread, or stuff it inside a red, ripe summer tomato.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com or annebraly.com.

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