Last updated: June 26. 2014 11:27AM - 587 Views
By Charlene Thornhill

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Independence Day, commonly known at the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United State commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, concerts, baseball games, family reunions and various other events.

While a Fourth of July picnic can’t help but be fun, it’s the foods you choose that will set the mood for your whole celebration.

So what should you look for when choosing food for a 4th of July picnic? You want it to be festive, flavorful, and fun. You want to taste great at room temperature. And you want it to be easy to travel with and serve. All together… well, that’s a tall order!

You’ve got the burgers covered, and you’re looking to round out your Independence Day feast.

What about an outstanding tomato-watermelon salad? Combine sweet, juicy watermelon chunks with fresh tomato, onion and red wine vinaigrette for a salad that is the essence of summer.

Use 5 cups (3/4 inch) seeded watermelon cubes, 1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into ¾ inch cubes, 3 teaspoons sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced, ½ cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, romaine lettuce leaves (optional) 3 oz. Feta cheese, cracked black pepper to taste. Combine the watermelon and tomatoes in a large bowl, sprinkle with sugar and salt, tossing to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Stir in onion, vinegar, and oil. Cover and chill 2 hours. Serve chilled with lettuce leaves (if desired) and feta cheese. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper to taste. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

For dessert, what about Tequila-soaked watermelon wedges? This grown-up fruit dessert borrows flavors from margaritas; Tequila and Triple Sec infuse the watermelon slices, which also get a spray of lime juice and a sprinkling of coarse salt. The longer the watermelon soaks, the more flavorful it becomes which is a good reason to save any leftover slices. Ingredients are 1 small seedless watermelon, red or yellow, quartered and cut into 1-inch thick wedges; 1 cup sugar, ¾ cup water, ½ cup tequila, ¼ cup Triple Sec, 2 limes, halved or cut into wedges, flaked with sea salt or coarse salt. Arrange the watermelon in a single layer in two 9x13-inch baking dishes. Bring sugar, water, tequila, and Triple Sec to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring until sugar dissolves; about 1 minute. Let cool slightly. Pour syrup over watermelon wedges, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. Remove watermelon from syrup and arrange on a platter. Squeeze limes over melon, and season with salt. Serves 4.

Enjoy this holiday with family and friends!

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at chardonn@embarqmail.com. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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