The biggest blockbuster research in recent weeks was Cambridge University’s study into lycopene, a carotenoid (that’s a natural pigment made by plants) and powerful anti-oxidant.
The latest in a string of studies and reports showing the benefits of lycopene, this one found that lycopene-rich diets can improve cardio-vascular and heart health. Previous studies have suggested that lycopene lowers the risk of prostate, skin, liver, lung and breast cancer – as well as preventing osteoporosis and skin-ageing.
As Doctor Rao, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, says: “Evidence to date supports the beneficial role of lycopene in human health. Ongoing studies will undoubtedly strengthen the existing scientific evidence.” You can read about the latest research here (one of our favourite reads at Kale and Cocoa: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Weekly … No, I’m not joking!): http://www.eat2think.com/2014/06/tomatoes-improve-function-of-blood-vessels.html
But all the newspaper coverage (yes, it made the front page of most UK broadsheets) has focussed on tomatoes (more lycopene in cooked tomatoes than raw, better absorbed when olive oil is eaten alongside etc). The most concentrated source of lycopene is actually dried tomatoes – so keep a jar in your store cupboard and snip into salads and soups. But the next lycopene-richest foods (twice as rich as cooked tomatoes) are guavas and watermelon. Granted, guavas are not always readily available. But watermelons are on sale all year round. And most of us (and our kids) love watermelon!
This week’s recipe is a fantastically simple savoury salad, adapted from a Peter Gordon recipe. I first made it ten years ago (with some trepidation) for a friend who worked for Raymond Blanc – when he finished off the bowl and asked for the recipe I knew it must be good. It’s been in my summer repertoire ever since …
WATERMELON AND FETA SALAD WITH PUMPKIN SEEDS
Serves 6 as a starter
- 1 cup of pumpkin seeds, dry roasted for a few minutes.
- 1.5 kg watermelon flesh, cubed (I leave the seeds in, but take them out if you prefer)
- 300g feta cheese
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 3 lemons, quartered
Crumble the feta over the watermelon, sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds and some crushed black pepper, drizzle over the oil and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing. This makes a great starter or a perfect side salad for barbecues – or pretty much anything on a hot day!