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Cantaloupe with Lime, Honey, and Basil

Renée Robinson

Quickly and Easily Transform Melon Into a Beautiful Summer Salad.

Melons, I love all kinds, and this time of year cantaloupes are starting to really come into their own. As this one sat on my counter and ripened, it was startling how the aroma took over the whole kitchen. I kept thinking about an icy cold cantaloupe salad as the days went on. 

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted the salad to be simple. The melon didn’t need anything complex added to it. I only wanted a dressing that would enhance and brighten the flavor of the cantaloupe, not overwhelm it. Fresh lime juice seemed like a good place to start. Lime juice is so biting and floral it only needed a little honey to round it out. Can hardly get more simple than that, right?

I then took a handful of basil leaves, rolled them up tightly and sliced the bundle of leaves crosswise – chiffonade style. The basil would give it an herbal touch. So far, so good.

Now, this brings me to the interesting part. I decided to grind up a few dried mountain pepperberries * and sprinkle them over the top of the melon. You’ll notice I didn’t mention mountain pepperberries * in the title of this recipe because I fully understand this isn’t a spice you’re likely to have on hand. Common black peppercorns would also be delicious used here. But I want to give you a full explanation of this remarkably unusual spice.

Native to Australia, this spice is unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted. I’ve seen it described in many ways, but I think the best description is that it begins with a sweet taste, similar to a plum, then it is quickly followed by a biting ginger-like flavor, and finishes with an almost Sichuan pepper note, while being hotter than the typical black peppercorns. Each dried mountain pepperberry * is larger in size than a black peppercorn, and when it’s crushed or ground it imparts a beautiful purple color when added to food. 

 

On the left are mountain pepperberries and the ones on the right are whole black peppercorns.

How did I come upon this spice? Well, in my family, we frequently stuff each other’s Christmas stockings with unusual food items and my son got these for me. Neither of us had ever heard of them and we’ve been experimenting with them in different recipes. I’ve tossed several whole berries into the liquid in meat braises, added a few ground berries into a potato gratin, sprinkled it over roasted veggies, stirred it into yogurt and used it as a dipping sauce, added it to spice rubs for grilled meat, etc. When the berries are added whole and slowly cooked with a recipe, I’ve found that their heat mellows and their other flavors come through more prominently, but when used as a freshly ground topping, the heat is more noticeable. I’m thoroughly enjoying their flavor profile in every application I’ve tried so far. 

That being said, mountain pepperberries * are in no way essential to the success of this melon salad, black peppercorns would be great here, but the pepperberries add a beautiful finishing touch, along with the grated lime zest. So there you have it, my friends, a lovely way to treat cantaloupe throughout the season. Add it to the list of great summer alternatives to a green salad.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, may pay me a small commission and help support the costs of this website. Read full privacy policy here.

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Cantaloupe with Lime, Honey, and Basil

Recipe by Renée Robinson
Servings

4

servings

Sliced cantaloupe makes a beautiful salad when dressed with fresh lime juice and zest, honey, basil leaves, and crushed mountain pepperberries or black peppercorns. Incredibly delicious and refreshing!

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Ingredients

  • 1 ripe cantaloupe, peeled, sliced into wedges, and chilled

  • 1 lime, juice and finely grated zest

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • Basil leaves - about a dozen, sliced into chiffonade strips

  • 5 mountain pepperberries * or black peppercorns, crushed

Directions

  • Arrange the cantaloupe slices on a platter. In a small bowl stir together the fresh lime juice and honey and spoon it over the melon slices. Sprinkle with either crushed mountain pepperberries * or black peppercorns. Scatter the lime zest and basil on top, serve, and Enjoy!

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