Fruit salad… it’s not just for breakfast, kids. Nor does it have to be a bowl of assorted diced fruit that doesn’t really go together. If you haven’t tried pairing juicy summer fruit with salty, savory ingredients, you’re in for a treat.
This salad is inspired by the classic Italian combination of sliced melon and prosciutto, with a few updates that make it even more delicious (and easier to put together!) It’s equal parts juicy, sweet, salty and crunchy and to me, it’s a perfect summertime recipe. It involves very little actual cooking, is bright and colorful and – most importantly during the heatwave we’re having in Maine this week – incredibly refreshing on a hot day.
What is “smashed melon,” you ask? For this salad, I crush some of the pieces of melon with the side of a chef’s knife to release the juice, which mingles with a splash of white wine vinegar and olive oil to create a simple dressing that’s both sweet and a little bit sharp. Just make sure to use very ripe melon for this salad for best results (and easiest smashing.) You don’t want the melon to be flat as a pancake – just a light smash should release the juice while still allowing the pieces of melon to hold their shape.
I’ve found that the prosciutto available in most American grocery stores tends to be a little bit stringy and lacking in the flavor department. But crisping that same prosciutto in the oven for a few minutes makes it wonderfully crunchy and salty – the perfect foil to the ripe, juicy fruit. I break the cooled prosciutto into “shards” and scatter them over the melon – no wrapping necessary. And to round things out, I add torn fresh mozzarella (you can dice it, too, but I like the more rustic look of torn pieces) and lots of fresh mint.
Since it’s not looking like any of us will be going to Italy this summer, I hope you’ll join me in enjoying this Italian-inspired salad in your own personal riviera (backyard or kitchen.) Serve it as part of a dinner spread or, as I did in what feels like another lifetime, with toothpicks as an hors d’oeuvre to share.
Smashed Melon Salad with Crisped Prosciutto
- 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
- 3 cups (1-inch) diced cantaloupe
- 3 cups (1-inch) diced honeydew melon
- 1 (12 ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
- Champagne or white wine vinegar, for drizzling
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves, lightly packed
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Lay the slices of prosciutto in a single layer on the pan and roast for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Set aside to cool, then break into small pieces.
- Meanwhile, place half the pieces of cantaloupe and honeydew on a large, flat platter, and place the other half on a large cutting board. Using the side of a chef's knife, gently and carefully smash the pieces of melon on the board to release their juices. Transfer the smashed melon and any juices that have accumulated on the board to the platter.
- Scatter the torn mozzarella over the melon, toss gently, then drizzle lightly with vinegar and olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt and black pepper.
- Tear or roughly chop the mint, then scatter the mint and pieces of prosciutto over the salad. Serve the salad at room temperature. Copyright 2020, Lidey Heuck, All Rights Reserved