I know you like the classic pairing of prosciutto and melon. It’s sweet, it’s salty and it is about as good as summer gets. But Labor Day weekend is upon us. The first harbinger of fall. I’m also off to Alaska to go fishing with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Summertime highs on the island near Sitka where I’m going are the 60s. Which pretty much means my summer may be almost over. But I could not let summer slip by without featuring this classic summer recipe. Melon and Prosciutto with Balsamic Vinegar.
I love melon for obvious reasons. When it’s good, it is mind-blowingly good. Once you’ve had melon of that caliber it’s hard to eat those spongy, pastel-colored cantaloupes from the grocery store. Or worse yet, those green monstrosities that come in prepared “fruit” salads. I don’t quite know how they get away with calling that food. I’d rather eat the plastic box it comes in.
Because good melon is sexy. I mean it. Food can be sensual. It can pique your senses in complicated ways. Starting with aroma. Melon can be wildly aromatic. Which opens your other senses to the combination of sweet and salty. It’s as sexy as summertime dining can be.
But this dish is only as sexy as your melons. Did I just say that? Anyway… I think you know what I mean.
So please choose your melons well.
Next stop autumn, and a whole new chapter at Sippity Sup! I hope to see you around.
They key to choosing good melons, is to choose ripe melons. Fortunately melons are one of the easier items to choose; whether from your local produce department or you favorite farm stand. The rules are these:
- A melon should be heavy for its size.
- If it’s a variety with “netting”, like a cantaloupe or Tuscan melon the rind beneath the netting should not be green and raw looking. Though green fleshed varieties may have some green stripes. There is a difference in the green.
- If there is still a bit of stem attached all for the better, it should not be woody. It should be tender without being mushy.
- If you are lucky enough to be choosing between melons all from the same plant, then size is a key factor. Contrary to the idea that cute, tiny-baby-sized fruits and vegetables are the very best– with melons, bigger is better. These are the fruits that the plant has favored with more nutrients, allowing them to grow big and sweet.
- Scent is a good barometer. Sniff the little button at the bottom. Often you will find the sweetest melons give themselves away in this manner. But this is not always the case. So take all these indicators into consideration when choosing.
However, the most important advice I can give to you is simply slow down and enjoy the choosing. Getting the best produce should not be a chore to be rushed through. You are choosing food. It’s an important part of your day. Spend some time giving it the attention it deserves. I think you’ll find, not only will your food taste better (and be better for you), but your blood pressure will drop as well. Making shopping a very healthy endeavor indeed. GREG
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 T sugar
- 4 1/2-inch-thick wedges of seeded and peeled melon
- 4 thin slices of prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
- Chives as needed, optional
In a small bowl stir together the vinegar and the sugar, let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.
Arrange melon wedges on each of 4 chilled plates and drizzle each serving with some of the vinegar mixture. Drape melon with a slice of the prosciutto and garnish the plates with chives.