Finally, finally we are headlong into summer. It was 98, wow it’s hot, burning your hands on the steering wheel, sleep with the air conditioning on, degrees here the other day. Huzzah! Summer! We’re finally seeing some “local” signs plastered on the front of the bins at the grocery. The farmer’s markets stalls are getting more abundant and colorful each week. I’m making icy drinks and watching the condensation run down the glass and puddle on the table. Thin cotton and linen. Bare feet. Nights on the balcony, wine in hand watching the stars and the moths helplessly throw themselves against the screen trying to get to the light. I like to take late night drives around my neighborhood and see the people gathered on the their front porches,talking and watching the cars drive by. Folks lingering at outdoor tables at restaurants and kids hanging in small groups laughing and telling each other tales. As the earth yields her colors and bright tastes, we seem to become more open ourselves. We’re out there, drinking in the warmth, reaching towards and connecting with each other. The seasons are magical to me, and summer is everyone holding hands, faces to the sun, smelling peaches and corn and peppers.
But wait! This is about melons, right? Yeah, melons. Most of the time, I just cut those babies open and eat them. No adornments necessary. Watermelon most of all. Just looking at watermelons makes me think of being little, at a picnic table with friends, having giant slices of watermelon on paper plates. Biting right into the middle, each end reaching almost to your ears, juice streaking every chin and neck, hands to elbows. Oh, and smiles as big as those slices. Great stuff. Well, this is a bit more sophisticated. A little more nuanced and complex. Don’t worry, it’s still fun. Fun! Watermelon! Yeah! Right, right, cool and sophisticated, and really, really de-ee-e-lish.
Use any melons you like. I choose three, a baby watermelon, a cantaloupe, and a galia (like a honeydew). I thought the tastes and colors would be lovely together. I love the combination of flavors but you could surely do this with just one. You can also substitute one acid for another, add herbs to the mint, etc. The one thing that I would add to this would be a very, very finely chopped jalapeno, and only a bare tablespoon of it. I think the fresh bite and bit of heat would be great in this as well.
Summer Melon Salad
This is loosely adapted from Alexandra’s Cook’s recipe. I didn’t use the vinaigrette she calls for and added and deleted some ingredients. But, it is in the spirit of hers.
2 cups each of watermelon, cantaloupe, and galia melon (again, use your faves.) in approx. 1/2″ dice
1/2 cup of english cucumber, finely diced
2 medium radishes, finely diced
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, minced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar (or rice, champagne,lemon juice etc.)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon of Kirsch
Add the rest of your ingredients, and gently toss to mix well. Gently! Chill until ready to serve. Now this will yield some juice. If you’re serving it by itself, just use a slotted spoon, or pour some of the juice off before service. If you use this over lettuces, you might want to use the juice to toss the lettuces with as a dressing. If you serve this as I did, alongside a wonderful sheep’s milk ricotta cheese, you will want to let it drain well, as not to soak your cheese with juice.
I think you’ll really enjoy this salad. Each flavor is clear, yet they all play together making the combination much more that just cut up melons. Let me know how you served it and how you changed it if you did. I’d love to hear how this inspired you..