It’s definitely the peak of the melon season here in New England where watermelons and cantaloupes are on full display at our local farmers markets and roadside stands. They are so tempting that some days at our house we start and end our day with slices of these juicy fruits. I love to use them in salads too, and this week included diced cantaloupe in a beautiful, yet simple summer salad.
I whisked together a honey vinaigrette, then tossed baby arugula leaves with some dressing before mounding them on salad plates. Next I drizzled diced cantaloupe and small fresh mozzarella balls with more vinaigrette and arranged them on top of and around the salad greens. Finally, I sautéed julienned prosciutto strips until crispy as a garnish for each serving.
Part of the appeal of this salad is its interesting mélange of flavors and textures. Cantaloupe and honey provide sweet notes, while cheese and prosciutto offer salty accents. The velvet smooth texture of the mozzarella contrasts with the crunch of the frizzled prosciutto and the crisp arugula.
You can serve this salad as a first course or as a side (it’s especially nice with grilled chicken). Or pair it with your favorite pizza or summer vegetable soup. Make it now while those glorious melons are in season!
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Summer Arugula Salad with Melon, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto
Red Wine Honey Vinaigrette
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil plus a little extra for sautéing the prosciutto
4 thin slices (about 2 oz) prosciutto
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups diced ripe cantaloupe cut into 1 -inch cubes
12 small mozzarella balls, halved
6 cups (4 to 5 oz) baby arugula
1.For vinaigrette, in a medium nonreactive bowl, whisk together honey, vinegar, mustard, and salt. Gradually whisk in the oil. (Dressing can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and whisk well before using.)
2.Cut the prosciutto slices into julienned strips about 1/4-inch wide by 2 inches long. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy, medium skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add the prosciutto strips and sauté, stirring, until crisp and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. (Prosciutto can be sautéed several hours ahead. Leave, uncovered, at cool room temperature for up to 2 hours.)
3.To serve, in a large bowl, toss the arugula with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the dressing (just enough to coat leaves lightly), and mound in the center of four salad plates. Drizzle the melon, and mozzarella halves lightly with some dressing and arrange around and on top of the arugula. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of frizzled prosciutto. Serve any extra vinaigrette separately. Serves 4 as a first course or side.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2020