There’s Only One Right Way to Eat Melon This Summer, and This Is It

published Jun 4, 2021
Kitchn Love Letters
Melon and Herb Salad with Pistachios

This combination of cantaloupe, fresh herbs, and salty pistachios is light, elegant, and perfect for hot summer days.

Serves4

Prep10 minutes

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Credit: Amelia Rampe

I used to be a melon-hater. When I was younger, I associated cantaloupe with subpar breakfast plates, where it was usually underripe, under-flavored, and underwhelming all around. In fact, I don’t remember ever eating melon the way I know it to be now: sweet and juicy and full of flavor. I honestly gave up and rejected cantaloupe and honeydew until I was an adult.

As I got older and my food knowledge and palate grew, I learned about prosciutto e melon (prosciutto and melon), a dish that goes back to ancient Roman times. The saltiness of the prosciutto plays so nicely with the melon, bringing out its sweetness in a way I didn’t know was possible. It made me realize that melon isn’t supposed to be eaten on its own — it needs supporting ingredients that help showcase and coax out its sweetness.

Lately, I’ve been loving the combination of melon, fresh herbs, and salty pistachios: It’s light, elegant, and perfect for hot summer days. Here, I’ll show you how to make it, and teach you a few food styling tricks to make it as beautiful as can be.

How to Shave a Cantaloupe into Ribbons

They say we eat with our eyes first, and shaving melon into ribbons will make you want to dig in immediately. Start by scooping out the seeds from a halved melon, then lay it cut-side down on a cutting board. Starting from the top of the melon, use your chef’s knife to cut under the rind toward the edges of the melon, removing any rind and pale pith until the melon is completely peeled.

You now have two options for cutting the melon into ribbons: a mandoline or a vegetable peeler. If using the former, cut the melon into 2-inch-wide strips. If using the latter, cut the melon into strips slightly smaller than the width of the peeler. Then, slice the melon lengthwise into ribbons. Melons can be slippery, so be sure to wear a rubber glove for extra protection if you’re using a mandoline.

The Best Herbs to Pair with Cantaloupe

The selection of herbs here is very important, because not every herb will complement the melon. I’ve had the most success with chervil, tarragon, chives, dill, basil, and fennel fronds. Those flavors play nicely with the melon and add layers of nuance.

I recommend using as many herbs as you can — all the different essences will delicately dance around on your palate with the melon. I like to roughly chop the herbs before I trim the melon, then keep them fresh in the fridge until assembly.

Assembling Your Melon Salad

You’ll start by decoratively placing half the ribbons on the plate, then top with lime zest, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, flaky salt, chopped pistachios, and some of the reserved herbs. Repeat once more, adding the lime juice when you add the zest and finishing the salad with a healthy pinch of urfa biber chile flake. Depending on the variety you use, the olive oil will either lend bitter notes (that’s a good thing!) or a more fruity flavor, so use one you love the taste of.

Don’t be afraid to take this salad in a whole different direction. Layer the melon with cucumber ribbons or thin strips of prosciutto. Add chunks of feta or goat cheese or a swoop of Greek yogurt. If you’ve found you’ve chosen a less sweet melon (it happens to the best of us!), drizzle with some honey. I guarantee any of these combinations will convert my fellow melon-haters.

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.

Melon and Herb Salad with Pistachios

This combination of cantaloupe, fresh herbs, and salty pistachios is light, elegant, and perfect for hot summer days.

Prep time 10 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup

    mixed fresh tender herbs, such as chervil, tarragon, chives, dill, basil, and fennel frond

  • 1/4 cup

    roasted, salted, shelled pistachios

  • 1/2

    medium cantaloupe (from a 5-pound melon)

  • 1

    medium lime

  • 2 tablespoons

    extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    flaky salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    urfa biber chile flakes

Instructions

  1. Coarsely chop fresh tender herbs until you have 1/3 cup. Refrigerate until ready serve. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup shelled pistachios.

  2. Scoop out the seeds from 1/2 cantaloupe. Position cut-side down on a cutting board. Cut the skin and pith from the melon with a knife: start at the top of the melon and cut down to the edges, rotating the melon until completely peeled.

  3. Cut the melon into thin ribbons: Start by cutting the melon into 2-inch wide strips (if using a vegetable peeler to cut into ribbons, cut the melon to slightly less than the width of the peeler). Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, very thinly slice the melon lengthwise into ribbons. The ribbons should be thin and pliable. If they aren’t, slice thinner.

  4. Arrange half the ribbons decoratively on a platter. Finely grate the zest from half a medium lime all over the ribbons. Drizzle with by 1 of the tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the flaky salt, half of the pistachios, and half the herbs.

  5. Decoratively arrange the remaining melon ribbons on top. Zest the other half of the lime over the ribbons. Cut the lime into wedges and squeeze the juice all over. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, 1/4 teaspoon urfa biber, remaining pistachios, and remaining herbs.