Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cantaloupe & Kale

So I walked into the turnip truck the other day, saw a stack of cantaloupe, (which i never buy) and HAD to have one. It was one of those bizarre moments where all the sudden, I could've just sunk my teeth through the rind to get to that orange juicy fruit inside, I wanted it that badly. I contemplated going to Starbucks for a plastic knife to try and saw my way through so I didn't have to wait to get it home. Then I came to my senses and drove home with it. :) But you know I didn't wait long! I chopped up some kale and red lettuce, threw it in a bowl and decided to chop and marinate the cantaloupe in a mixture of balsamic, honey, basil and lime juice. An hour later, I threw it all together and sent my self straight to fresh, fruity heaven. The only thing I really feel the need to tell you about this salad is that you need to make it because it's A: way too easy not to, B: like eating the freshness of a garden surrounded by tropical fruit trees, and C: it's way too easy not to. (did i already say that?) ;)

So here's what you need:

  • a bunch of kale. I used lacinato because you know I'm currently obsessed with it.
  • a bunch of red lettuce. or whatever else you want, that's just what i wanted for color.
  • half or whole, depending on how much you want, cantaloupe, sliced and diced.
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime
  • fresh basil
  • honey, i used wildflower and love love loved it.
  • parmesan reggiano or asiago and romano for finishing
Wash your greens and put them aside to dry a little while you prep the cantaloupe.
 Let's slice up your cantaloupe and really clean it out... don't throw any of that good fruit away.
 Once you've diced it, place it in a shallow plate or bowl so we can marinate it.
Depending on how well you like it, sprinkle some fresh basil pieces all over the cantaloupe. Then squeeze the juice of one whole lime all over.
 Now drizzle balsamic vinegar all over to make a small pool in the bottom, drizzle a little olive oil over the top, loosely drizzle or spoon skinny "strands" of honey all over and then sprinkle on some sea salt. (be careful with the sea salt, it's so much saltier than regular table salt... but it's so much better on the fruit!) :) Now just set that aside to marinate. Throw it in the fridge if you prefer your melon to be chilled in the salad.
Now finely chop your greens! I like to gather the stalks and leaves horizontally, bunch them together tightly at the ends with my fingers, and chop inch wide slices all the way down. Keeping them together as neatly as possible all the way down, I like to then slice all the cuts vertically to make the lettuce pieces bite size. Otherwise you end up looking like a brontosaurus with no manners. :)
(funny that lacinato kale's other name is 'dinosaur kale.')

Toss your chopped greens in a big, pretty salad bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little more sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Then top with your shaved cheese.
 I'd let your melon keep soaking... but that's just my opinion... if you're ready to eat, go ahead and mix your goodies together. Otherwise, at this point you've probably only got another 20 minutes to wait.
When you're ready, pour the cantaloupe on top of the bed of greens and cheese, including all the juices it was sitting in... that is what's going to make your main dressing flavor.
 Now drizzle with a little more olive oil and cracked black pepper... voila!
I served myself a hearty portion of this with a slice of extra crunchy whole wheat sourdough, doused in butter and topped with a little sea salt.
It'd be fabulous with grilled salmon, grilled chicken, shrimp, whatever! For girl's night, I served it up with some roasted chicken tossed with chopped tomatoes and olive oil. It was fab!
But I personally love tasting each and every ingredient just as is with no meat involved... the cantaloupe really shines that way.
Get creative! Make this salad your own! But don't NOT make this salad.... make this salad. (bad grammar, I know... just really needed that extra 'not' punch) Go buy a cantaloupe and sink your teeth in... it's BEYOND refreshing. And if you're not into cantaloupe, buy a watermelon and some soft chevre goat's cheese... swap out the cantaloupe and the parmesan for those two. It will be equally as rewarding.

Love you guys! Happy Memorial Day weekend! I'm so grateful for our Armed Forces. Dad, Uncle Vic, thank you for serving and protecting us.

I'm proud to be an American.