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Summer Melon Salad With Prosciutto And Mint Vinaigrette

Summer Melon Salad with Prosciutto and Mint Vinaigrette

With temperatures hovering in the 90s here in the Northeast, who wants to turn on the oven or slave over a hot burner?
Not I, and probably not you.
When I saw this beautiful salad in Coastal Living magazine, I knew this would be perfect for one of those steamy days as we’ve had this week. Picking a ripe melon is difficult, but I let both the cantaloupe and the honeydew sit on the counter for a few days to be sure they were at their peak.
The combo of sweet melon in season, with fragrant salty prosciutto isn’t a new one, but the mint vinaigrette takes it to a new level.
Got a partner with a he-man appetite who requires a heftier meal? Then just add a couple of hard-boiled eggs on the side, a hunk of good cheese, or both.
Breadsticks are always a good idea too, especially when they’re covered in lots of seeds.
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Summer Melon Salad with Ham and Mint Vinaigrette
recipe from Coastal Living
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar (I used white balsamic)
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
1/2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, divided
1 small cantaloupe (about 3 lb.) halved lengthwise
1 small honeydew melon (about 3 lb.) halved lengthwise
2 oz. (I used 1/4 lb.) thinly sliced prosciutto
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1. Whisk together vinegar, shallot, honey and salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until incorporated. Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped mint. Set aside.
2. Remove and discard seeds from 1 half of each melon; cut each into 2-inch-wide radial spokes, about 6 slices each. Reserve remaining melon halves for another use.
3. Using a sharp knife, follow the natural curve of the melon to remove the rind.
4. Arrange melon pieces and prosciutto slices on a platter. Drizzle vinaigrette over the top; sprinkle with black pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon mint.
Grilled Pizza With Figs And Other Delights

Grilled Pizza with Figs and Other Delights

Whoever thought of making pizza on the grill deserves a medal from the culinary medal committee. The grill can get much hotter than my inside oven, delivering that crunchy, nearly burnt crust that’s so loved and so authentic. I’ve made it several times in the past, always placing the pizza dough directly on the grates. This time, I wanted to heat up my pizza stone on the grill and toss the dough onto the stone. It really does produce a more even browning, and it’s much easier to handle when it comes time to flip it over. The only problem is that until you recognize just how hot the pizza stone can get, you’re likely to burn your first attempt. That’s what happened to the first round of dough I placed on the stone. It burned in only one minute. That didn’t keep my neighbor’s daughters, Janie and Annie, from munching on the burnt offering while we were putting together round two of the pizzas.
Get all the toppings ready ahead of time because the cooking goes really fast. In this case, we were making a couple of pizzas – first the pizza with figs, prosciutto and other goodies. I posted about this pizza in my early blogging days when I had no readers other than my family, and it’s so delicious I thought it was worth a repeat here.
Stretch out your pizza dough (purchased or home-made – this one is from a local pizza shop). Toss it on the grill or pizza stone and keep a close watch on it. It will take only a couple of minutes to brown.
Flip it over and cover with the cheeses, chopped walnuts and the sliced figs.
Remove it from the grill and add the sliced prosciutto and arugula. Last time I posted about this pizza, I added all the toppings and cooked them together, but now I much prefer to layer the prosciutto and arugula after the pizza is cooked. They taste much fresher that way. Drizzle with a little extra balsamic “essenza” or glaze if you’ve got it. If not, don’t fret. It’s delicious even without it.
Figs and gorgonzola not your favorite? Just go with a classic topping of tomatoes – in this case grape tomatoes from the garden – mozzarella cheese and basil. A grinding of salt also enhances.
Grilled Pizza
Buy pizza dough or make your own.
Heat up the grill to highest setting. As it turns out, the highest setting on my grill was too hot and burned the first batch of dough. Experiment to see what temperature works for you.
Cook the first side of the dough directly on the grates or on a pizza stone that you’ve heated on the grill.
Flip it over and add any toppings you like.
In these two cases:
Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola
Cook the first side of the dough as described above. Flip it over onto the grill or pizza stone. I placed figs, chopped walnuts, about two ounces of gorgonzola and four ounces of mozzarella on top and let the cheese melt. It took another two to three minutes and the other side of the dough gets cooked and browned.
Remove to a platter and top with slices of prosciutto and arugula that’s been tossed in some oil and vinegar.
Pizza with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Cook one side of the dough on the grill or pizza stone. Flip it over and top with grape tomatoes, about four ounces of mozzarella, fresh basil and a sprinkling of salt. If I had thought about it ahead of time, I might have cooked the tomatoes whole to caramelize a bit before placing on the top. Either way, it’s pretty irresistible.
Prosciutto Log Appetizer

Prosciutto Log Appetizer

This recipe comes to you from my friend Titti, an enthusiastic member of a group I belong to called “Le Matte del Lunedi,” or “The crazy ladies of Monday.” We meet each week to chit-chat in Italian, drink espresso (and sometimes prosecco, I won’t kid ya’) and eat wonderful food prepared by that week’s hostess. It makes you
want to learn Italian just to be part of the group and eat the scrumptious food. Titti is always ready to help out anyone who needs an extra hand and frequently arrives with a special treat to help the hostess, as in the case, the prosciutto log.

The group is comprised of accomplished women who hail from nearly all parts of Italy. Titti is from the Liguria region, others from Lombardy, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Lazio, Campagna, and more. The discussion can range from family to politics, but almost always touches on the subject of food. With so many good cooks from so many regions of Italy, the food at the weekly meetings is always special. Once a year, we invite the husbands for an annual picnic where the ladies (and men) really pull out all the stops, culinarily-speaking. It’s an event no one wants to miss. I’ll be sharing more of the ladies’ recipes in the blog in the coming months. With New Year’s approaching, you might want to include Titti’s prosciutto log on your menu.

The recipe calls for prosciutto cotto, which translates to cooked ham. The cured prosciutto most of you know and love is called prosciutto crudo, or raw ham. Don’t use that in this recipe. Look in a specialty food shop for prosciutto cotto. If you can’t find real prosciutto cotto from Italy, used boiled ham instead, not smoked ham like a Virginia ham. Another substitute that is very close to prosciutto cotto is something that my local market sells called “French ham.” It’s as delicate in flavor as prosciutto cotto, but you’ll want to trim the fat and gelatin around the edges first. At many supermarkets, you’ll find something called “parmacotto,” but that’s not quite right for this recipe, since it normally contains a lot of other flavorings.

Prosciutto Log

1 pound prosciutto cotto, sliced
2 sticks softened butter
2 tsps. cognac
freshly ground black pepper
20 green olives, cut into small pieces

In a food processor, place the prosciutto cotto, butter, cognac and black pepper. Pulse until everything is smooth and well blended. Add the green olive bits and mix in with a spoon. Roll into a log shape and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for a few hours before serving. Serve with bread rounds. To make a prettier presentation, trim the slices with a scallop-shaped cookie cutter, and decorate the plate with fennel fronds, as Titti did.