What's in season: Any way you slice them, melons are one of our favorite fruits of summer. It’s hard to pass by a market stand and not be taken in by the fragrant notes of freshly sliced samples waiting to be tried. The fruit, which is generally available from the hottest summer months through the beginning of fall, can be divided into three main families: smooth-skinned melons, including honeydew; melons with netted rinds, such as cantaloupe; and waxy-skinned watermelons. Look for a number of unique and heirloom melons, such as the smooth-skinned Snow Leopard melon, which has a white rind with green stripes and white to pale peach flesh; and French Charentais, a grayish-green melon that is sweet and fragrant. As always, it's a good idea to consult with the farmers for suggestions and specific flavor characteristics.
What to cook: At its ripest, a great melon is best enjoyed simply, cut or sliced as a refreshing snack or as part of a fruit salad. Blend the melon and add to aguas frescas, cocktails and other beverages, or use the purée as a base for a sweet cold soup or a spicy gazpacho. Melons also work well on the grill, thick slices seared for a minute or two on each side to caramelize the outer sugars, then served with a scoop of ice cream or flavored whipped cream as a simple dessert.