How About a Simple and Unique Summer Melon Salad?
I love eating and serving a simple melon salad with my meals in summer. I can’t think of anything more refreshing and satisfying. If you’ve got a good melon, you really don’t need to do a lot to it in order for it to be delicious.
I had a large, heavy, and perfectly ripe Athena cantaloupe. I knew it was going to be great before I ever cut it open because it smelled so wonderful. It wasn’t going to need any kind of vinegar or acid. Instead, I decided to make a type of dukkah to sprinkle on top. If you’ve never had it, dukkah/duqqa is a roasted nut and spice blend commonly found in Egyptian and other Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s used as a condiment and has been around for a very long time.
I’ve been making different kinds of dukkah for awhile and have now become loose with what I add. For instance, besides the commonly used coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds, I also added ground sumac * and gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes) .* And instead of traditional hazelnuts and sesame seeds, I added roasted salted peanuts, only because I thought they’d be really good with the melon.
After briefly toasting the seeds in a small skillet, I coarsely ground them in my spice grinder ,* and stirred in the sumac, dried oregano, gochugaru, a little sugar, salt, and the coarsely crushed peanuts. That’s all there is to it. If you don’t have a spice grinder ,* I highly recommend getting one. I use it at least several times a week. I never buy ground coriander or cumin. Toasting and grinding the seeds takes only a couple of minutes and there is so much more flavor in the freshly ground spices. Plus, for this recipe you don’t want the seeds finely ground. You want them coarsely ground and it only takes a few seconds to get this result in a spice grinder.
Begin by lightly drizzling extra virgin olive oil on the slices of melon, sprinkle on the dukkah, along with a couple sliced scallions, and black pepper. It’s incredibly delicious. Trust me. It tastes so complex, yet it probably didn’t take more than 20 minutes to put all of this together. And although I had no dukkah left over, it would be worth it to make extra to have on hand to use on other melons, veggies, as a dip for bread, etc.
I served the melon with thick grilled pork chops and slices of toasted baguette, onto which I’d spooned some olive oil. A very simple meal to prepare, but what a joy to eat. As I’ve mentioned many times, this is the way I cook. All you need is one stand out dish made with care and a simple meal will end up being very special.