This dessert is dedicated to those of you who have seen triple digits on the thermometer this week and cannot imagine firing up the oven under any circumstances. Here, slices of melon provide a cool, silky texture while the syrup punches up the sweet and adds an exciting bit of heat. The lime balances the flavors and refreshes the palate. But best of all, this dessert is quick and simple and leaves the oven resolutely turned off.
Melon with Lime-Chile Syrup
serves 6 to 8
2 limes, juiced and zested
1 jalapeño pepper
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 ripe melon, about three pounds
For the syrup
Zest the limes (I use a rasp) then cut them in half and squeeze all the juice out. You should have roughly 4 tablespoons. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise and roughly chop one half, leaving in the seeds and rib. With the other half, scrape out the seeds and rib and add them to the rough chopped pepper and chop the remaining flesh in to an even, fine dice. Try to be as neat as possible, as this dice will be used for garnish later.
Combine the juice, sugar, water and the rough chopped jalapeno plus extra seeds and ribs in a small sauce pan and heat gently over low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, about one or two minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Strain the syrup and discard solids. If there's time, refrigerate the syrup to cool it even further.
Just before serving
Slice melon into thick wedges. I got eight medium-sized slices from my 3 pound melon. Gently scrape out the seeds and place wedges on individual plates. Drizzle with the cool syrup and garnish with the finely chopped jalapeno and lime zest. Serve on a plate with a spoon. Optional garnish: finely chopped mint or basil.
Notes: I used a Gala melon (sublime!) this time around, but a honeydew or cantaloupe (or both) should be fine. I also used a red jalapeño for color but you can use any hot pepper you'd like.