Melons, particularly cantaloupes, grow on lengthy vines which require plenty of space and full sun. They should be planted when the soil is no cooler than 70 degrees. Melons take about 75-100 days to mature and ripen. The soil should remain slightly damp but not soggy. When the stem becomes noticeably drier, the melon is ready to be picked. The stem should easily separate from the vine by hand when perfectly ripe.
Here’s my version of the classic Italian antipasto, “Prosciutto e Melone.” When I picked this beautiful cantaloupe, also known as a muskmelon, I was immediately inspired to recreate this signature Italian delicacy in a modern way. This recipe allows you to savor the explosive taste of the melon without overpowering its naturally delightful flavor.
2 tbsp champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp minced shallot
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cantaloupe, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
6 thin slices of Prosciutto di Parma*
10 ounces fresh baby arugula/spinach mix
1/4 cup sliced almonds
*Whole Foods carries a great variety of arugula mixes along with the Prosciutto di Parma imported from Italy. At the deli, ask for a 1/4th pound sliced very thin, but not shaved. The pre-packaged kind just doesn’t compare. Treat yourself to the real deal!
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
- While continuously whisking the mixture, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the vinaigrette emulsifies. (The mustard serves an emulsifier to bind the vinaigrette together while adding great flavor).
- In a salad bowl, add the diced cantaloupe, prosciutto slices, arugula/spinach mix and almonds. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top and gently toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings