By Unknown - 10:59 PM

Watermelon is the fruit which symbolizes summer for me.
In my childhood, watermelons were absolutely one of my favorite fruits.
In Vietnamese it is called dưa hấu and the watermelon seeds are consumed as a snack during Tết, the Vietnamese New Year's holiday. There's even a fable called An Tiêm & the Watermelon aka the Watermelon Prince that is well known in Vietnamese culture. It's one of the many tales I've enjoyed reading.

Photo Credit: Quyen Truong

There is a market called Bến Thành in the heart of Saigon Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, where everything you want is in reach. I always begged Mom to take me along on her routine grocery trip.
As a child, it was my haven.

Ben Thanh Market in the 90's. This is how I remembered it.

Ben Thanh Market - Now

It has been 15 years since I left Vietnam and I'm dying to see it again.

***Disclaimer: the above photos do not belong to me.***

You can buy the best watermelons you ever had at this market.
I will never forget this incredibly juicy and sweet taste!
You cut through the hard green rind and bite through the bright, watery red flesh, the sweet juice spouts on your face and flows down along your chin and your fingers.
And you feel this kind of deep satisfaction and get a big smile on your face.

You don't need me to tell you that watermelon is just about the most refreshing thing you could possibly eat in the middle of summer, especially in this 100-something degree weather in Austin.
But, did you know watermelon has many health benefits as well? 
- Excellent source of vitamin A to support eye health.
- Contains vitamin C to support the immune system.
- Bursting with vitamin B 6 and helps brain function.
- Loaded with lycopene - more than any fruit or vegetable - helps protect your skin from sun damage.
- Packed with potassium, helps lower risk of high blood pressure.
- Has amino acids citrulline and arginine to promote healthy cardiovascular function.

There are many worthy and refreshing things to do with watermelon that are somewhere between simple slicing and full-blown cooking.
The concoction I'm sharing with you here is another super easy "Bikini Season" dish to whip up.
It is effortlessly simple, fresh & vibrant  and guaranteed to wow you & your guests.

The combination of flavors is perfect for all of you salty-sweet-spicy lovers out there like me.
The blue cheese actually makes the lemon taste sweeter but not too sweet thanks to the rice wine vinegar while the fresh watercress ensures every bite is lively.

If you fancy to make some as a side dish or appetizer, you'll need the following:
4 cups seeded, cubed watermelon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (6 oz.) package watercress*, thoroughly washed
1/2 - 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese*
For vinaigrette:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup pepper jelly
Juice of one fresh lime
Salt & Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange chopped pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant ~5-7 minutes. Remove & cool.

Whisk together all the ingredients except for olive oil.
Gradually add oil (2 - 3 TBS) in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended.
Store in an air tight container til serving (you can make it ahead a couple days & refrigerate).

Cut the watermelon into slices & into cubes.
Save yourself a few wedges to munch on while you work.

Combine watermelon and fresh watercress in a large bowl.
*You can replace watercress with Maché, julienned mint leaves or baby lettuces.
Add vinaigrette & toss gently to coat.

Transfer to serving plates & sprinkle with pecans & blue cheese.
*You can opt for feta cheese.

An intriguing twist on a staple summer side dish.

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