Come August at The Sylvia Center, our lives revolve around our Young Chefs Farm Camp. We carry out two back-to-back weeks of garden and culinary-focused activities that take place in our learning garden. It is a major highlight of our summer because every day we find ourselves at the intersection of cooking, farming, and eating, all the while building intergenerational relationships between our campers and staff.
That’s where this recipe arose from — having the freshest of produce at our fingertips, hungry minds eager to taste new flavors and experiment with new textures, and our knowledgeable chefs that inspire our young chefs to swirl these components together into delicious new creations.
Mexican sour gherkins or informally, cucamelons, are infamous in our garden. The kids understandably flock to them because they are hands down the most adorable member of the cucurbit family. About one inch long, they possess a likeness to cucumbers with a crisp, lemony twist. If you can’t find these little charmers in your grocery store or market, cucumbers are a perfect substitute. If you do go the cucumber route, you may want to 1) peel their skin if it is tough and bitter and 2) de-seed them by scraping a spoon along their flesh as you would a pumpkin. This will prevent your salad from becoming too watery.
The salad is refreshing and simple — three ingredients and no added dressing. The juicy, sweet and tart characteristics of the melon and sour gherkins provide a built in dressing. All we add is a bit of salt to enhance the flavors. Always start with a sprinkle and add more to taste.
To make it a more filling snack, we opted to serve the salad alongside lemon zested yogurt and we can highly recommend that you do, too. We prefer the taste and texture of plain, Greek, whole milk yogurt because we can flavor it to our own tastes. Speaking from their foodie hearts, our young chefs decided that the zest provides a bright sweet and citrus flavor that had us all licking the bowl clean!
Watermelon and Sour Gherkin Salad
For the salad:
1 medium watermelon, diced
15-20 Mexican sour gherkins, halved
2 sprigs mint, roughly chopped
Salt, to taste
1 pint plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest, or more to taste
1. Combine watermelon, cucamelons and a sprinkle of salt to taste. Add mint.
2. If desired, combine yogurt with lemon zest and serve this alongside the salad.