Watermelon may be classic warm-weather picnic fare, but its musk-melon cousins -- including popular varieties like the ubiquitous cantaloupe, the chartreuse-fleshed honeydew, and the heavenly-scented Charentais -- fill farmers market tables as summer turns to fall. Everywhere you turn, it seems there's a different sort of melon, a variety for every taste and appetite.
Beautiful and delicious, melons are also good for you: They're an excellent source of Vitamin A, folate, and potassium; orange-fleshed varieties are also rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin C.
Melons are delicious simply sliced or cubed -- perhaps with a scattering of herbs to make a delicious minty salad. Pepper-dusted melon wedges are a classic European treat, along with the better-known prosciutto-wrapped melon. But if you're feeling inspired, why not whiz up a melon gazpacho, or a spicy Asian-inspired chilled melon soup?
Although most folks prefer to eat their melons raw or pureed, you do encounter the occasional stewed chutney or pickle recipe. Some baked goods make good use of thee fruit's abundant moisture and scent -- check out these adorable color-coded honeydew and cantaloupe cupcakes. And, like most any seasonal fruit, melons are fair game for cocktails.
And although you don't need any special equipment to enjoy them, a specially designed melon knife may help frequent eaters cut down on carving time. (It also comes in handy for carving pumpkins later in the year.)
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