The madness of summer heat is upon us and I’m craving simplicity. This is the time of year to make like a chef: Embrace the simplicity, and allow the ingredients to speak for themselves. Which isn’t always as easy as it sounds. That’s because simplicity is complicated. Easy may seem like the simplest choice, but true simplicity is rarely easy. Does that make sense? Let me try it this way. Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Which sounds profound, but I think he was just sharing the cooking notes for his own Cantaloupe Salad.
Which I can relate to.
Cantaloupe Salad with Cucumbers and Pancetta
My original intention was to keep this Cantaloupe Salad very simple. I was going to take shards of cantaloupe and slices of cucumber and toss them with tarragon and vinegar and be done with it. Then I started thinking about tarragon and vinegar. They taste great together but have you ever noticed what happens to tarragon when it comes it contact with a strong acid? It turns black and slimy. Which may be simple, but it wasn’t something I could embrace. So decided to add just one more step to my simple cantaloupe salad. I infused the vinegar with fresh tarragon and tossed the leaves once they got slimy. Simple, right?
However, in the course of my prep work for this salad, I tasted my super sweet summer cantaloupe and realized all those honey notes were going to need some balance. I still had a block of feta leftover from the Baked Feta I made earlier in the week… I’m sure you’ve noticed how simple it is to crumble feta.
After that, it didn’t take long for me to notice a package of forgotten pancetta in my refrigerator and suddenly I recalled reading about a salad recipe that drizzled hot pancetta oil on cold cucumbers. Doesn’t that sound good? I’d already planned on cucumbers for my simple salad. How hard would it be to drizzle my Cantaloupe Salad with hot pancetta and tarragon-infused cider vinaigrette?
Need I go on? We’ve all been there… GREG