This salad, a riff on that beloved summer staple, tomato caprese, is so delightful, you may eschew tradition and go with this fruit-meets-savory composition all season long. I'm telling you, this meeting of flavors, textures and tastes is simple and heavenly.
Spending time with my folks in Southern California means a lot of walking the dog at the beach, waking up early to the tune of the fancy espresso machine and family meals around the big fir table. There's a certain rhythm of relaxation, activity, crossword puzzles and good eating we lapse into, especially during our summer days together. It's an irreplaceable, lucky feeling to grow up in such a household and I leave feeling renewed and a little sad — being a spoiled daughter is sometimes hard to say goodbye to!
On one lazy afternoon this past week, I turned to an extra-ripe cantaloupe, my mom's basil plant, fresh mozzarella hiding in the back of the fridge and a few other favorite ingredients . . . And declared it dinner. With a good loaf of bread, some tabbouleh and a generous portion of this nouveau variation on caprese salad, we relished the meal and each other's company. If peaches can enter salad domain and top pizzas and garnish grilled chicken, I believe ripe cantaloupe can too. You may be surprised and come to include this luscious, sweet complement to all the salty summer foods.
Cantaloupe Salad with Basil, Fresh Mozzarella & OnionsServes 4-6
1 medium cantaloupe, cut into 1 inch cubes
10-20 leaves of basil, chiffonaded (reserve a few whole leaves for garnish)
10 green olives, sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh mozzarella balls, sliced into quarters
Red wine vinegar
Juice from one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, toss the cantaloupe, basil strips, olives, red onions and mozarella balls together. Lightly dress the salad with a long pour of olive oil and even longer drizzle of red wine vinegar. Juice one lime and toss into the salad. Generously salt and pepper the salad and taste. This salad is great straight away but even better chilled for a few hours before serving, to allow the flavors to really meld.
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)