cantaloupe salad

Chicago Tribune: Diane Worthington on Cooking with the Muse

Myra Kornfeld Reviews and interviews 0 Comments

Summer salad brings a fresh bite to any meal

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By Diane Rossen Worthington /

Tribune Content Agency

Cantaloupe-Tomato Salad with Olives, Ricotta & Basil Vinaigrette

Authors Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimilla have penned a unique tome on seasonal foods and cooking. Beautiful photographs bring the recipes to life in “Cooking with the Muse” ($39.95, Tupelo Press). What sets this book apart is the added literary component of culinary poetry on food, cooking and eating, making it my pick as the best cookbook of the summer. Among the dishes I can’t wait to try are corn pudding souffle, strawberry yogurt gazpacho and seared salmon with blueberry teriyaki.

The authors invite us to enjoy this summer recipe: “Prepare to be refreshed and surprised. This is the juiciest, most quenching summer salad you’ve ever encountered. When cantaloupe is ripe and sweet, a spritz of citrus is the only enhancement that may come to mind. You may be surprised, then, at how well this sweet orange melon goes with ripe heirloom tomatoes, such as speckled Roma, complemented by the lemon, olive oil, and touch of mustard in the basil vinaigrette. Bush basil, with its precious little leaves and intense basil flavor, goes especially delectably with melon. The mild, fluffy ricotta falls as gently as clouds over the rolling sun-steeped landscape speckled with salty shadow-black kalamata olives. This salad is the exciting version of cantaloupe and cottage cheese.” 

Doesn’t that make you want to make this recipe immediately? 

Each recipe has a poet’s note. The one for this salad tells us about exotic basil varieties, how to select a cantaloupe and the history of cantaloupe, and it ends with a quote from “Fiesta Melons” by famed poet Sylvia Plath: 

“Bump-rinded cantaloupes 

With orange cores. 

Each wedge wears a studding 

Of blanched seeds or black seeds 

To strew like confetti 

Under the feet of 

This market of melon-eating 

Fiesta-goers.” 

Serves 4 

For the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon golden balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (bush basil, lemon basil or lime basil)

For the salad:

1 (5-ounce) tomato (preferably heirloom, such as a speckled Roman), sliced (1 cup)

1 pound ripe cantaloupe (1/2 large), seeded and cut into wedges

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

Chopped fresh basil, for sprinkling

1. Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the shallots, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, then the basil.

2. Make the salad: Toss the tomato and cantaloupe with the dressing; divide onto four plates. Dot little mounds of the ricotta around the fruit and scatter with the olives. Sprinkle with a dusting of basil.

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