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Super Watermelon!

When I saw this spread in the New York Times Magazine, it was hard to not be dazzled by watermelon's rich hue. Inspired by the city-size toaster oven we were all cooking in last weekend as temperatures peaked over 100 degrees, and the sweet cool winds that I felt this morning, here are my three favorite recipes from Mark Bittman's inspired musings on watermelon. And, while you may think these are all sweet treats, keep in mind that watermelon is in fact quite a superfood. Its seeds contain valuable fats and the rind is the most nutrient dense part of the fruit. When juicing, puree-ing or blending for these recipes, keep in mind that you can often include these often discarded parts of melon. Gazpacho Peel 1 small watermelon (about 3 pounds), and cut the flesh into large chunks. Put them in a food processor along with 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse the mixture, adding a few ice cubes, one at a time, if necessary, to get the machine going. Chill in the fridge. Garnish: Fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

Popsicles Cut about 1 pound watermelon into small chunks (discarding the rind), and put them in a blender with 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Process until smooth, adding enough water (or fruit juice) so that the mixture liquefies. Pour into popsicle molds, and freeze.

Pancetta Vinaigrette In a large bowl combine 3 cups cubed watermelon, 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped, and 1/3 cup mozzarella cubes. For the vinaigrette, render 4 ounces chopped pancetta in olive oil until crisp. Add some chopped shallot, a splash of sherry vinegar and lots of black pepper. Toss with the watermelon and tomatoes. Garnish: Fresh basil.