Simple summer side dish: Cantaloupe Salad with Cucumbers and Pancetta.
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ¼ ounce fresh trragon
- 1 ripe cantaloupe
- 1 English cucumber
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounce thinly sliced pancetta (chopped)
- 2 tablespoon chopped shallots
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 ounce crumbled feta cheese
Infuse the vinegar: Pour the cider vinegar into a jar, gently crush the tarragon stalks and leaves in your hand and place them into the vinegar, pushing them down into the liquid as much as you can. Screw on the lid and set aside, occasionally shaking the jar, for a minimum of four hours and up to overnight.
Slice the melon in half and scoop out and discard the seeds. Remove the melon flesh in large, juicy shards, saving as much of the juice as possible. Place the fruit and juice into a mixing bowl. Slice the cucumber into ⅓‑inch thick rounds and add them to the bowl with the melon. Place the melon and cucumbers in the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, fry the pancetta in the olive oil until very crisp, then remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve the fat in the pan.
When ready to serve warm the pancetta fat over a medium heat, then remove the tarragon from the vinegar and pour 4 to 6 tablespoons into the hot fat, be careful it may sputter. Stir in the shallots and add a few grinds of black pepper. Quickly pour the hot dressing and wilted shallots over the chilled melon and cucumbers, tossing to combine. Transfer the salad to a serving plate and garnish with reserved pancetta, feta cheese, and more black pepper.