Cooking With Liz: Summer Edition

Taken From:

M. Caruso

Taken From:

Liz Berndt, Editor-in-Chief

When I think of summer cooking, I envision a warm afternoon at a barbecue or a crisp morning strolling through the farmers’ market but most importantly a cold succulent watermelon, waiting to be devoured.

My grandparents have a farm in East Texas. For years, I looked forward to visiting their Farm Hand Mr. Leon’s watermelon garden. This place was a sight to see; there were Peacocks running around, dropping their beautiful feathers, and huge exploding watermelon growing on every inch of ground. The watermelon, both yellow and pink, were bursting from the hot Texas afternoon. Each time we visited, Mr. Leon would let us pick a melon and he would crack it open; there, we would dig our faces into the warm fruit.

Mr. Leon and his farm have passed on, but my love for watermelon, which I credit to him and visits with my grandparents,  lives on.  This summer, I have been somewhat disappointed with the watermelon selection. Since my last visit to Mr. Leon’s farm quite a few years ago, I have not been able to find a yellow watermelon. Safeway certainly doesn’t carry them and my few attempts at Whole Foods or Diablo Foods have failed. Nevertheless, I love experimenting with watermelon recipes.

When I’m in East Texas, my grandparents and I will  sit down with half a melon, a salt shaker and a fork. My grandpa always says the only thing he likes salt on is a cold watermelon. It’s a simple creation, but one that makes me smile and reminds me of wonderful times with my grandparents.

But salt on watermelon or a simple fruit salad, is just the beginning for this divine fruit. This summer, I played with different watermelon salad recipes and found the one below to be my favorite. I love avocado and the taste of fresh basil, especially during the summer when you can buy them from the farmers’ market. This combination plus watermelon and tomatoes made for a perfect texture and taste. I recommend sprinkling some feta on top if you are looking to add a little creaminess to the salad.  Other than that, the recipe is wonderful.

I hope everyone is enjoying watermelon-packed last weeks of summer, remember to visit us at for more this fall!


  • 3 or 4 small to medium heirloom tomatoes, in assorted colors, cored and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

  • 1 small English or regular cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

  • 1 cup 3/4-inch-cubed yellow or red seedless watermelon flesh

  • 1 Avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

  • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs, in any combination: basil, tarragon, chives, and cilantro

  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, avocado, and herbs. In a spice grinder, grind the coriander seeds to a fine powder. Add the ground coriander to the tomato mixture and toss gently.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the tomato mixture and toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

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