Zatta Melons Bowl Me Over!

Zatta Melons

Walking down the center aisle of a farmers market this time of year is like walking through a candy store. Sure there are berries and stone fruit enticing us at every turn. But peaches, plums, and saskatoons alone aren’t responsible for the intoxicatingly sweet fragrance. Summer melons are hitting their peak where I live and the aromas are incomparable – oozing honey – filling my summer mornings with the sweetest whiff of wonderful.

However, before you run right out to the Piggly Wiggly and pick up one of those green bowling balls that pass for watermelons or get lured in by the dirt cheap, mealy muskmelons that pretend to be cantaloupes let me tell you something. There are melons out there that taste sweeter than pineapple, mango, and saskatoons (combined). They come in odd shapes and can be covered in ugly warts or splashed with funny freckles. These are the heirloom melons and you might even pass them right by (wondering all the while just where the sweet aroma of honeysuckle is coming from).

Zatta Melons

Heirloom melons aren’t as rare as you think. Oftentimes they’ve been lovingly tended by generations of growers whose immigrant ancestors brought the seeds with them when they moved to the New World. One such melon (and its intoxicating fragrance) is called Zatta Melon. It’s a muskmelon that dates from at least the early 1600s when it was illustrated in still-life paintings. Today it remains a traditional variety of Italy, where it’s called “Brutto ma Buono” (ugly but good).

The flavor of these orange-fleshed Zatta Melons is very sweet and rich and deserves some special attention. I’ve chosen a salad with the peppery bite of watercress – which contrasts nicely with the Zatta Melons that I’ve cleverly used as salad bowls. Grape tomatoes and red onion add complexity and crisp bits of baked prosciutto “chips” add crunch while celebrating the classic combination of prosciutto and melon. GREG

Prosciutto ChipZatta Melons Bowls with Watercress and ProsciuttoZatta Melons Bowls with Watercress and Prosciutto

Watercress and Prosciutto Salad in Melon Bowls 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Published
Zatta Melon Salad with Watercress and Prosciutto


  • 4 slice very thin prosciutto
  • 2 small, orange fleshed melons (such as Zatta, Charentais, or extra small cantaloupe)
  • 8 ounce fresh watercress leaves (washed and well dried, tough stems removed)
  • ½ red onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • simple, mild flavored vinaigrette (choose your favorite)
  • salt and pepper (for seasoning)


Place oven rack in center position then preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Arrange prosciutto slices in a single layer, not touching, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Bake until crisp, about 20 minutes. Let cool then coarsely chop into bite sized chunks; set aside.

Halve melons and scoop out and discard seeds; set aside to use as salad bowls.

In a medium bowl toss watercress, onion, tomatoes and prosciutto with 3 tablespoon vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper; toss again.

Divide salad between melon bowls. Serve immediately

Zatta Melons