I just returned home from shopping in our picturesque little village in the hills of Lombardy. In my straw market bag I had a juicy melon so ripe I could smell it before I saw it. Also in my bag was a spicy soppressata salami, some creamy fresh goat cheese, and country bread, freshly baked by my neighbor Claudio.
Late in the afternoon as the sun began to set over the hills, I went into the kitchen of my villa and put together a little antipasto salad. I took the sweet, fragrant melon and cut it into bite size pieces, seasoned it with a pinch of sea salt and a few generous grinds of fresh black pepper, gave it a quick stir, and had a taste. Si, perfetto. I added a little olive oil, tossed the melon gently again, and then finished the salad with a splash of white wine vinegar.
In my little garden off of the terrace, I picked a few sprigs of fresh chives, returned to the kitchen, and used my scissors to snip them over the top off the salad. For a final garnish, I cut the salami into thin strips, and sprinkled them over the melon. To complete the antipasto plate, I spread fresh goat cheese on toasted slices of the country bread to serve alongside the melon salad. Now all I need to do is find that bottle of vino I’ve been saving for company.
When I awoke from my dream, I found myself at home in my small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, craving the little Italian savory antipasto melon salad from my dream. I looked down and in my lap was a copy of an old Food & Wine magazine. It was open to an article titled Instant Italy written by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and a recipe for savory cantaloupe salad.
For an appetizer that evening, I put together a melon salad in a similar manner as described above. I substituted freshly squeezed lime juice for the vinegar and slivers of summer sausage for the Italian soppressata salami called for in the original recipe because soppressata was not readily available. The salad was in one word – fantastico.The black pepper and lime juice together bring out the sweetness of the melon and the spicy salami gives the salad just the right amount of bite to it.
Next time I think I’ll go the extra mile and seek out authentic Italian soppressata salami instead of settling for supermarket summer sausage. But I have to say that if you can’t find soppressata, the summer sausage was a more than worthy substitute. I have since served the salad using fresh Italian basil in place of the chives and it was fabulous also.
Some opera music playing in the background would be perfect when you serve this appetizer. The Lombardy region of Italy is the birthplace of composer Guiseppe Verdi, one of the most famous and influential opera composers of the 19th century. A little La Traviata anyone?
Cantaloupe – it’s not just for breakfast anymore.
I will be linking this to
On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable