Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great melon summer salad!

    Back in my younger days in Louisville, we often went to a buffet brunch after church services on Sunday.  Inevitably one of us kids would take more on our plate than we could eat.  My mom would always say "Your eyes were bigger than your stomach."
    That’s kind of how I am when I go to summer farmers’ markets.  I want it all.  And I almost always buy it all.
    I stopped into the Agricenter market last week, just one day before we were leaving for a long weekend away.  I got too many tomatoes (wait—is that even possible?) and veggies for dinner that night and headed out the door.  And right beside the door was a display of large, enormously fragrant cantaloupes. I just had to have one. 
    I knew it had to be eaten before we left, and that evening a friend was joining us for dinner.  I had already planned the menu, but with the aroma of the melon wafting through the kitchen, I knew I had to use it.  How about a salad?
    I foraged in the fridge and found the makings of an extremely delicious salad.  I put it together and let it set for an hour or so at room temperature and then served it on a bed of arugula.  It was absolutely delicious.
    This could certainly be made ahead and stored in the fridge until you’re almost ready to serve it.  Just be sure to let it come closer to room temperature before serving for the best flavor. I used all cantaloupe, but a mixture of cantaloupe and honeydew melons would also be tasty. 
    I just cut the melon into nice bite-sized chunks.  If you want to be totally chi-chi about it, use that melon baller contraption that you got for a shower gift.  There's one good side benefit: it leaves a lot of little bits and pieces unusable in your salad...but that means you have to eat those bits yourself.  Well, I mean, you can't just toss them into the disposal, right?
    This salad, best when ripe summer melons are available, makes a great side dish for just about any kind of meal.


4 cups melon, cut into chunks
Juice and finely grated zest of one large lime
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. good fruity olive oil
4 to 6 cups salad greens of choice
Additional mint for garnish

Put the melon chunks into a bowl.  Add the lime juice and zest, feta cheese and chopped mint.  Let set at room temperature for about an hour, tossing occasionally.
Taste and add salt if necessary. Some feta cheeses are saltier than others, so you may not need it.  Sprinkle lightly with coarsely ground black pepper.  Add the olive oil and toss again.
Serve on a bed of greens, drizzling any juices from the bowl over the top, garnish with mint sprigs and serve immediately.  Serves 4 to 6.

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