The other day, we heard (or read, who knows at this remove), that honeydew melon is not as popular as cantaloupe. And we think we know why. Cantaloupe tends to have more flavor than honeydew melons when they’re not ripe, so people perceive that as a better melon. Of course, in the store, most of the melons aren’t ripe, which we would consider the worst of all possible melon states.
We understand the requirements of store melons: hard enough to stack, travel long distances, no blemishes on the outside, none of which has anything to do with flavor or how it tastes. (No produce in the supermarket is there for how it tastes. It’s all selected for ability to ship, stack, and look nice. Sad, but true.) That is one of the main reasons we originally joined a CSA: to get fresh, ripe produce, grown for taste, rather than looks. And, for the most part, it’s worked out. But, sometimes, as with this week, we do get something that could have spent more time ripening on the vine. This week, our melon could have spent another couple of days ripening. Don’t get us wrong, it was still superior to just about every store melon we’ve ever had; it was just that a few areas were lacking in flavor and somewhat crunchy.
For that reason, we came up with this salad that will boost the flavor of the melon. Let us know what you think.
Fresh lime juice all the way, baby. Reconstituted lime juice tastes bad, which won’t do your salad any favors. Fresh basil, too, of course. In cooking, you might be able to get away with using dried, but in a salad, no way. If you don’t have fresh basil, or even if you do, feel free to substitute fresh mint. Either is a perfect match for lime. The raspberries are there mainly for color and to add a sweet contrast to the lime. Blueberries or strawberries would work, too. And, if you’ve read this far, almost any type of melon would work in this salad. Go wild, and try it.
Procedure in detail:
Chop melon. If you haven’t already, remove the seeds from the melon, and cut into pieces about an inch on a side, discarding the rind. An inch is a good size for people to fit into their mouths. Too large and you’ll have to take bites while it’s on your fork (or cut it in your bowl, leading you to wonder why you didn’t cut it up in the first place) and that’s likely to make it slip off onto your lap. Place the cut melon in a large bowl, which we think is a better choice than just leaving it on the counter.
Zest and juice. Since you’re using the zest of the lime, wash it very well before cutting off the zest. We use hot water and dish detergent to get off the wax/residue and then dry the lime before zesting. For zesting, a microplane is ideal; it shreds that zest into fine pieces, releasing a lot of lime-flavored oil.
Toss. Sprinkle the lime zest and the basil over the melon and give everything a light toss to distribute the basil and lime zest over the melon. Now drizzle the lime juice over the melon and give everything a nice toss to coat.
Taste and season. Give the melon salad a taste, and sprinkle with salt and pepper if you think it’s necessary. We did, and it really helps bring out the flavor. It won’t take much of either the salt or the pepper; we probably used less than a quarter teaspoon of each. If you’re not serving immediately, you can cover and refrigerate the salad.
Add berries. Right before serving, wash and dry the raspberries, then sprinkle them around on top of the melon. Looks nice, right?
Not only does this salad look nice, it’s a nice-tasting salad, too. It’s surprising to take a bite, because you’re expecting just sweet fruit. Instead, you get hit with sweet fruit, a nice basil taste, and the bright taste of lime. The lime isn’t overpowering, but it really pairs well with basil. We originally added raspberries mainly for the color, lest we have green melon, green lime zest, and green basil salad, but the raspberries formed a nice contrast to the lime and basil, in taste as well as in color. Overall, this is such a simple fruit salad and takes just a few minutes to put together, so we’ll give it a four.