What is summertime without a bowl full of melon? Sweet members of the Cucurbitaceae family of fruits, like cantaloupe, are practically dessert. Unsurprisingly, watermelon and honeydew melon also fall into this category, but so do gourds like pumpkins. Unlike their autumn cousins though, melons are perfect fresh from the garden. Cantaloupe’s creamy orange meat hides under an unassuming, beige, bumpy rind, but once the seeds and rind are removed, nutrient-dense cantaloupe is ready to enjoy.
The simplest way to enjoy cantaloupe is to take a bite from a freshly sliced wedge and let the juice run down your chin. However, some other delicious ways allow you to sneak this summer fruit into any meal. Adding cantaloupe to a summer salad brings more than a light honey flavor. It is high in beta-carotene, which is the same vitamin that gives carrots and sweet potatoes their orange color. Beta-carotene is excellent for eye health and immunity. Cantaloupe is also a great source of vitamin C and helps with hydration.
It may sound counterintuitive, but when checking to see if a cantaloupe is ripe, it should smell a bit bad. Sniff the end where the fruit attaches to the stem. If it smells a bit like day-old garbage, then you’ve got a ripe melon on your hands. If the smell is still faint, take it home and let it sit on the counter for a few days until it ripens.
Melon Caprese Salad
Caprese salad is traditionally mozzarella, tomato, basil, and olive oil. However, cantaloupe also pairs well with the mild, soft cheese and fresh herb. Since this version removes the tomato and all its delicious acidity, vinegar helps balance the olive oil. Serves 1.
4 leaves of fresh basil
3 slices of cantaloupe, 1-inch thick
2 slices of mozzarella, 1-inch thick
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
Stack slices of mozzarella, cantaloupe, and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and raspberry vinegar and top with flaky salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Personal-sized Grilled Melon Flatbread
If pineapple on pizza sounds like a crime, then perhaps skip this recipe. However, if sweet and salty is your style, then this flatbread is just what you need. Create this delicious appetizer in less than half an hour. Serves 1.
2-ounce pizza dough
1 slice of prosciutto
2 tablespoons sliced shallots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine olive oil, oregano, and garlic powder. Stretch the dough thinly into a 9-inch circle and place on a pizza stone (a cast iron skillet is another good alternative). Brush with the olive oil mixture. Top the dough with shallots, parmesan cheese, prosciutto, and cantaloupe. It is important the cantaloupe is on top so that it does not absorb all of the salt from the meat and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until the crust is just past golden brown. Remove from the pizza stone, slice, and serve.
Coconut Cantaloupe Sorbet
Fresh fruit on its own is an irresistible summer dessert. Preserve that delicious summer fruit for another day by making a simple sorbet. Serves 4.
1 pound of cantaloupe
3 tablespoons coconut cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
Place cantaloupe and coconut cream in a blender and blend on high for 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, make a simple syrup. Put sugar and water in a small pot on the stove and heat on high. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Place the cantaloupe cubes back in the blender, pour two tablespoons of the hot simple syrup over the cubes, and add a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. If the mixture is too cold to blend, add a tablespoon of hot water and blend again. Once the mixture is smooth and consistent, scoop and serve.