It’s absolutely the height of muskmelon season. I see them at every roadside stand, at all the farmer’s markets, everywhere I go. This makes this one of the best weeks of the year! But what to do besides eating them out of hand? How about these, my top five canteloupe and muskmelon recipes!
Proscuitto e Melone
One of my absolute favorite things to do with a ripe summer melon is a classic Italian first course. Just drape thinly sliced proscuitto over wedges of cantaloupe. It looks beautiful, taste great, and is super easy. One thing: If it’s not sliced thin, it will not drape! Try our almost local La Quercia prosciutto, cured down in Iowa – slice the melon wedges off the rind, and lay the prosciutto pell mell on top – that’s beautiful, good, delicious. Everything I love. I put a video up online if you’re more of a visual learner, but it’s that easy: Muskmelon, the muskier the better, and prosciutto.
Spiced Melon Mojitos
Can you drink your muskmelons? You can! Cut off the rind and get rid of the seeds, throw it in a blender with some mint, add rum – so pretty, and memorable, and well worth the effort. They go down easy, though, so be careful!
Another classic Italian dish which showcases those sweet melons in peak season: Granita. It’s kind of like a crunchy sorbet, made from a puree of whatever melon you have, and a little simple syrup. All you do is puree, then pour the mixture into a flat shallow pan – a jelly roll pan or a lasagna pan—then freeze. Break up the mixture with a fork every 30 minutes as it’s freezing to make little delightful crystals. So fun.
Melon and Salmon with Fried Shallots
This recipe is from John Shields, an award-winning chef from Virginia. It’s got buttermilk, lime, fried shallots, and crispy salmon – in other words, it’s packed with flavor. If you don’t want to fry the salmon, go ahead and grill it (to plank or not to plank, that is up to you) – you just won’t get the super crispy skin. Treat yourself (and a few cherished friends) to this elegant meal with a glass of Riesling, and some candles out on the patio.
Lime, Mint, Ginger and Canteloupe Fruit Salad
I hate it when you get a melon that you were so looking forward to – and it’s watery. This is my go-to way to pull it out of the ditch, and it’s a great thing for pot-lucks. Make the syrup in advance, cut all the muskmelon in advance and put that in a bowl, carry them separately and combine on the picnic table when you get to your destination. Really special.