My philosophy on whatever food is in season is that by the end of it’s season you should be so tired of eating it that you don’t really mind if you see it again until next year, when it’s in season again.
Sure, you can buy a melon in winter, but it won’t be the sweet, succulent, fragrant fruit that it is in summer.
Tomatoes, mealy and watery in winter, are juicy, sweet and screaming to be eaten with anything and everything in summer — on a BLT, sliced fresh on top of a pizza, or in a classic caprese. I love a good caprese, because what’s not to love about a juicy tomato paired with milky sweet mozzarella, fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper? (Some like a bit of vinegar, but I prefer to leave it off so the more subtle flavors can shine) Paired with crusty bread to mop up all the juices it makes the perfect summer lunch, appetizer or light dinner.
There are so many other simple produce pairings you can assemble for a simple salad.
Melon pairs beautifully with feta, a drizzle of olive oil and chili flakes. Substitute peaches in for tomatoes in your next caprese. Add prosciutto to either of these for a salty meaty kick and some extra protein.
Or, try an Asian inspired caprese a la momofuku and try shiso leaf* instead of basil. Finish with a drizzle of sesame oil and a splash of rice vinegar. Make it vegan by substituting tofu for the mozzarella. Add avocado. Make some toast, mound it on top and eat it with a knife and fork.
The possibilities are endless. What are some of your favorite simple salads?
Melon feta salad
1 medium melon(Pick a melon that is heavy for it’s size. Wait until it’s fragrant to cut it open)
4 oz feta**
8 slices prosciutto, thinly sliced(optional)
Slice melon in half. Scoop out seeds. Cut into 2 inch wedges. Slice towards rind from top to bottom, then slice along rind. Place melon chunks on individual plates or a platter. Crumble feta on top, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle chili flakes on top.
Serves 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a light lunch.
*Shiso leaf, also known as perilla, is a member of the mint family. It is similar to basil but with a citrusy, minty flavor.
**Feta can be made with cow, sheep or goat’s milk. Traditional greek feta is generally made with sheep or goat or a mix of the two. My favorite is French sheep’s milk feta. Sheep’s milk has the highest fat content of the three(cow, sheep or goat) milks, which makes for a richer cheese. I also love barrel aged greek feta, which is aged longer and in barrels. This gives it a stronger flavor.