Perhaps none of you reading this have yet had the problem of too many mouse melons, but if you grow them, you very well may (see my previous post on mouse melons for description of this vigorous plant). I recently tried to find a way to deal with this harvest:
(about 4 cups, 1.5 pounds) and thought about a cucumber-yogurt cold soup I’d had recently at a local restaurant. I looked through several favorite cookbooks with recipes, and came up with a combination of ideas. On reconsideration, I’d like to try again with a recipe that doesn’t involve cooking (just pureeing ingredients) but my first attempt was as follows.
Mouse Melon Soup
4 cups mouse melons
4 shallots or a small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (see note below)
2 tbsp butter
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup plain yogurt
Cut the mouse melons in half lengthwise. This is tedious and probably unnecessary, but I did it and that allows me to show you what they look like inside.
As you can see, no point at all in trying to seed them.
Melt the butter in a saucepan (large enough for the ingredients) and cook the chopped shallots or onion until tender. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the mouse melons (except for a few you might want to reserve for garnishes), and cook about 3 minutes. Add the herbs and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes, then puree by whatever means you prefer. (If you use a blender, do it in batches.) Chill the pureed mixture in the fridge for a few hours. Just prior to serving, adjust seasonings (you may need to add salt, pepper, vinegar to taste) and mix in yogurt until smooth. Serve, with garnishes if desired. Serves 6-8 (I have leftovers).
I do seem to keep coming up with olive green soups.
Notes: If you don’t have mouse melons (as some people may not), you could use two large cucumbers, seeds scooped out and probably skinned, chopped roughly.
For herbs I used a combination of basil, mint and tarragon. I think the basil was too strong and would suggest not using it or using only a leaf or two; same with tarragon. Mint and/or dill would work better. Fennel would be interesting in small quantities.
Mouse melons are a bit more sour than cucumbers, so the soup will not taste exactly like the expected cucumber-yogurt soup. I like the taste but I’m going to keep fiddling with proportions and see what happens. If anyone else out there has a bumper crop of mouse melons and would like to experiment as well, I’d be very happy to hear your results and suggestions.
On the other hand, it seems a shame to pulverize these cute little veggies, at least prior to putting them in your mouth. They work well in salads; here’s a link to an article on mouse melons with a salad recipe, by William Woys Weaver. (Also includes seed saving instructions, for which I am very grateful.)