Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Easy Italian Appetizer - Savory Cantaloupe Salad

 


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

44 comments:

  1. You had me going for a minute, Sam. I thought you were in Lombardy. Nevertheless, the salad looks so refreshing and a wonderful combination of flavors. I'll give it a try! Thanks.

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  2. Bet that tasted good, it certainly looks delicious. Diane

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  3. That is an interesting way of serving cantaloupe. Delicious and refreshing!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. What a beautfiful dream Sam; I really thought you were re-living a great experience. Wonderful combination of ingredients.
    rita

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  5. That looks fantastic! I can't wait to try this. I love savory taste with cantaloupe.

    -Catherine

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  6. You're so lucky to have those dreams:)
    I wish I could end up in Lala Italiano land..:)

    Have you tried adding balsamic salt to your salad Sam? It's so good..

    I had posted the method ..on my blog at one point..I got the recipe from an excellent French Blog..You might like it:)

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  7. What a lovely dream, Sam. For a minute there I thought you were on vacation. Melons will start showing up at the farmer's markekt in a week or two and I've bookmarked your wonderful recipe. Can't wait to try it. There is nothing more delicious than a vine ripened cantaloupe.

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  8. You had me convinced Sam and I was ready to hop on a flight to Italy to join you...alas reality set ina nd I need to get ready for work...but thanks for the dreaming.

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  9. Beautiful!! I love using canteloupe in a savory way, I make an awesome melon and prosciutto pasta that is a great example of this. Thanks for the wonderful post and recipe!

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  10. Ahhhhh! We can dream right!?!?! Love it! This looks amazing and perfect for the season! Love the bread with the goat cheese along side...pulls it all together! Beautiful!

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  11. HA! You had me fooled! I thought you were really there, until you woke me up from your dream!
    What an interesting way to prepare cantelope.

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  12. Sam, what a nice dream...and turned out real with this delicious combination of cantaloupe melon and salami salad. Beautifully presented!
    Hope you are having a fantastic week :-)

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  13. I love this post! The writing was fantastic -- and the salad, well, it's another one of yours that I'll have to try!

    P.S. Also interested in the balsamic salt one of your commenters mentioned. I'm off to google it.

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  14. My father used to put salt and pepper on his cantaloupe and my husband uses lime. Now you have given me a new delicious twist for the melon.

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  15. First - I am going to sleep and try to channel your dream. Second - I'm going for the salad. The sweet with the pepper and salami just engages me! (I'll take the cheese, too.)

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  16. Ah Sam! You write so well - You dream dreams - foodie dreams!! Must make this delightful salad and perhaps I too will be transported to beautiful Lombardy where strains of Brindisi from Verdi's La Traviata waft across the landscape!

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  17. I was wondering how I missed your heading for Italy. You are definitely the queen of savory fruit salads.

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  18. Sam, I love this! What a nice change! Thanks for sharing this wonderful Italian recipe!

    Mary

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  19. I was about to congratulate you on going on a trip to Italy, Sam! :)

    I like the way you diced the summer sausage and then sprinkled it over the cantelope! I have always used prosciutto to make this appetizer but I'm sure this tastes equally delcious!

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  20. LOL! I love cantaloupe. In fact, it's the only melon that I will eat. I love the savory twist on this salad. I love cantaloupe and prosciutto, so why not this combo? So summer!

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  21. another wonderful salad and what a great dream

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  22. That salad looks divine!
    I'll have to try it. Sam, your blog makes me hungry even when I've just had a full meal.

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  23. Beautiful idyllic description of building that melon dish. Costco has nice looking Tuscan melons that I'm tempted to buy since our Rocky Ford melons are a little odd tasting this year. I think due to an early drought. This salad looks marvelous. I just ran across a similar salad I posted a year ago that ended with a sprinkle of mint. And lastly, I really like Lynn Kasper .. wish I could get her on Public Radio.

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  24. You had me at cantaloupe! I love this fruit and to combine it with savory ingredients just takes it over the top! i could eat the whole thing! WOW!

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  25. I've been off blogger for most of the spring/summer, so I totally thought you were spending the summer in Lombardy. I was transported there with you as you came back from the market! This looks great. Perhaps I will make it and indulge a trip to Italy in my imagination!

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  26. I love these fantasies! I am dreaming too these days since I am stuck in over 105F heat in the Dallas area; however I am lucky to be able to swim in a big pool!
    Your salad looks fantastic.

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  27. I got really carried away by the story and then you woke up!!!! :)
    I have a cantaloupe and soppressata that sorry to say I only use it for sandwiches.

    Thanks for the recipes.

    Mely

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  28. Such a lovely sweet/savory salad! I think the idea of the fragrant basil with it is fabulous!

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  29. And here I thought you were reminiscing! What a lovely dream.
    Well, you've posted a divine salad/meal, that's no dream. Love the idea of the sweet cantaloupe with those savory flavors, Sam.

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  30. Loving that dream! And the dish :) I'm a sucker for melons and meat, one of my favorite combos!

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  31. I have never had cantaloupe prepared this way and I love how it looks!

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  32. Would you believe I could feel the breezes and smell the rosemary growing outside the door? Ahhhhh

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  33. Loved the cantaloupe recipe...Susie

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  34. Hey Sam,

    Are you planning on going to the food and wine festival in Asheville next weekend? I wanted to make sure that you knew about the food blogger event that is running concurrently with the Asheville Food and Wine Festival next weekend. Info and tickets for the food blogger events are at: http://www.sefoodlovers.com/register.html

    Tickets for the food and wine festival are at: http://www.wncmagazine.com/wineandfood/about

    Wouldn't it be great to have a food blogger community here in NC? Hope to see you there!

    Lynn

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  35. Wouldn't it be wonderful to wake up in Italy? :) I love the idea of this appetizer. Good canteloupe is one of my favorite fruits. I have not had good luck with them lately, though. The last couple have been bland and tasteless. Maybe I'll have better luck next time.

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  36. Wow ! The picture... makes my mouth water !
    I've just printed the Savory Cantaloupe Salad recipe. I'm not a great cook but this one is easy :)

    Cathy

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  37. Ha ha ha you are too funny! I also dream of being in Italy and eating in Italy! I am not a canteloupe eater but husband would love this. With appropriate Italian cured ham, of course ;-)

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  38. Cute post! Your salad sounds delicious and one I'd love to try...a nice variation and simpler to prepare than prosciutto-wrapped melon too.

    You have a beautiful villa :-)

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  39. I love the idea of using cantaloupe in a savory salad, just lovely!

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  40. Oh my gosh, Sam, I was reading this post and thought, "Is this luckiest woman on earth" and then you 'woke up'....I'd love to have a dream and/or reality like that! WOW! What a delicious appetizer And yes, sopprasetta is so worth the search! Great post!

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  41. This salad looks so good. It would especially be delicious on these hot summer days. Thanks for sharing it with us, Sam.

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  42. I want to dream your dreams...not the kooky late for classes type I usually have! This salad looks fabulous...a few bits would take me right to Italy...mmmmm.

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Sam