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Watermelon Bites with Feta, Fresh Spinach and a Cilantro-Mint Pesto

Mariel here. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but this month’s crop of watermelon seems to trump any melon I’ve relished in years past…that or I’m suffering from seasonal amnesia. Inspired by a particularly tasty treat I enjoyed this past holiday weekend, I decided to try and incorporate this juicy summer staple into a non-dessert recipe. One that might provide refreshing respite from the red-hot heat here in the northeast.

I suggest serving the following as finger food at an alfresco barbeque, picnic or afternoon party. For a fuller meal, the melon bites also pair nicely with grilled shrimp/chicken. This dish requires almost no cooking – just a flash saute to wilt the spinach – and if you’re lucky enough to own a food processor, there’s hardly any chopping involved. In my opinion, it may just be the perfect hot weather snack. But that’s just me…

Watermelon Bites with Feta, Fresh Spinach and a Cilantro-Mint Pesto
Makes 40-50 Squares

Ingredients for the Cilantro-Mint Pesto:
1 cup fresh cilantro, packed (if you hate cilantro, parsley might sub-in nicely) – $0.99
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed – $1.49
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted – stock
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan -$4.00
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime) – $0.50
1/3 cup olive oil – stock
3 garlic cloves – stock
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper – stock
1/2 teaspoon salt – stock

Ingredients for the Bites:
Approximately 5lbs seedless watermelon, sliced 3/4″ thick then cut into bite-sized squares – $5.45
2 cups fresh spinach – $1.50
2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
6 oz feta (I used reduced fat) cut into thin squares sized to fit watermelon bites – $3.99
Sprinkle of salt – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $17.92
Cost per bite: $0.36

Directions for Pesto:
1. In a cuisinart, blend the walnuts, garlic, parmesan, pepper and salt until you create a thick paste.

2. Add the cilantro, mint and lime juice until finely chopped.

3. While the cuisinart is running, slowly add the olive oil until everything is smooth and creamy. Set aside. (PS: this pesto saves in the freezer for up to a month).

Directions for Bites:
1. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over a high flame. Once the oil is hot, add the spinach and quickly wilt (this takes less than a minute). Immediately remove from heat and transfer the spinach to a bowl, sprinkle very lightly with salt and set aside.

2. Assemble the bites starting with the watermelon square on the bottom, followed by a piece of torn spinach, then the feta then a dot of the pesto. Et voila! Wasn’t that easy?