Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Cantalopue

Cantaloupe is so boring to me, can it be more than just a filler in fruit salad?

We need to stop shaming cantaloupe this way! Though I agree that it has gotten a bad rap as a “boring” fruit by way of the breakfast buffet. But Cantaloupe is so much more than fruit salad! Lately I have been really interested in crossing melon over the savory side and pairing it with crisp veggies that are complimented by its sweetness – like in the fennel-cantaloupe salad featured here. I also love to juice cantaloupe and drink it fresh or mix it with sparkling water and fresh ginger. I’m also a fan of single fruit salads where instead of mixing multiple fruits you just focus on one but add an amazing dressing! Like Cantaloupe salad dressed with raspberry and mint dressing with almonds on top – wow! This time of year the melons are so floral and delicious, we should all be searching for any way possible to enjoy them!

How do I know if my cantaloupe is ripe?

Melons are one of those tricky items where you never really feel totally confident it’s ripe by looking at it. For me, smell is my best bet for determining ripeness over all other methods. I like when a cantaloupe smells sweet and floral. I also judge by how strong the smell is. You should not have to put your face right up to it – its aroma should be strong enough to smell when you are close to it. Some people look for a softness to the touch, but I find a soft melon is usually verging on over-ripe.

Recipe: Cantaloupe and Fennel Salad

1 cantaloupe, seeded, peeled, and diced

1 fennel bulb, sliced or shaved thin

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Zest and juice of one lime

1 quarter sized piece of fresh ginger, grated on a microplane

2 tsp honey

5 leaves mint, torn or sliced thin

Maldon or coarse sea salt

In a large bowl combine the cantaloupe and fennel. In a separate bowl mix together the lime zest and juice, ginger, and the honey. Pour the lime-honey mixture over the salad and toss to coat. Top with the nuts, the mint, and a sprinkle of salt. Salad can marinate or be enjoyed immediately!