Tony's Melon Picking Secrets Revealed
Watermelon: It's all in the thump! Cradle a watermelon in your arms away from your body (holding it against your body will give you a false reading), with the belly facing down. The belly is the yellowish part of the melon, it is yellow because this is the part that lies on the ground. Now take an open hand and pat the bottom of the melon, if it is a good melon it will resonate with a good vibrations through out the melon; if when you pat it sounds like a patting a piece of wood, it is under- or overripe.
Cantaloupe: It's all in the slip. The slip is the part of the fruit that is attached to the vine when growing. A good slip should be slightly indented and green, indicating that the fruit was ripe and ready to be picked as it gently pulled away from the vine. If it is underripe or green you will have to twist it off the vine. The slip also indicates freshness - as the melon grows older it will begin to darken, cave in and go bad; like I said it is all in the slip.
Honeydews: Honeydews are the most difficult of all to pick even for a produce expert like me. The best indicator is the color, a stark white honeydew indicates flavor more toward its cousin the cucumber; look for a creamy color, but the skin should not be soft as this is overripe.
Watermelon Gazpacho Shots
4 cups seedless watermelon
1 cup tomatillos, diced
1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Zest of one lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon tabasco
Put the tomatillos, jalapeno and lime juice into a food processor. Process until it is chunky, add the watermelon, lime zest, salt and cayenne. Pulse 10 times. The mixture should be slightly chunky. Chill well before serving, at least one hour or up to one day. To serve, pour into shot glasses and garnish.
Cantaloupe and Celery Salad with Mint Vinaigrette
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped shallot (about 1 medium)
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves plus 10 mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 ½ teaspoons tamari soy sauce
1 ripe medium cantaloupe or honeydew melon halved, seeded, peeled, very thinly sliced
4 celery stalks, very thinly sliced on diagonal (about 1 2/3 cups)
2 green onions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
8 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Combine lemon juice, shallot, Champagne vinegar, and lemon peel in small bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Add ¼ cup olive oil, chopped fresh mint, and tamari soy sauce to vinaigrette. Whisk vinaigrette to blend flavors. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Arrange melon slices on large platter. Top melon with sliced celery, sliced green onions, and sliced radishes. Drizzle vinaigrette over and sprinkle with sliced mint. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle salad lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and serve. Serves 6.
Sliced Melon with Prosciutto, Marcona Almonds, and Basil Oil
½ cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium cantaloupe or honeydew melon, halved, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced
½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto
¼ cup Marcona almonds, coarsely chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Blanch basil leaves in small saucepan of boiling water until just wilted, about 10 seconds. Transfer blanched basil leaves to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain: using hands, squeeze out excess water. Puree basil leaves, ½ cup oil, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in blender until smooth. Set aside. Divide melon among 4 large plates. Drizzle with basil oil. Arrange prosciutto over melon. Sprinkle almonds and parsley over. Lightly drizzle additional extra-virgin olive oil over. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Feta & Melon Salad
7 oz Sheep's Milk Feta
1 cup Watermelon, seeded and cubed
1 cup Cantaloupe, cubed
1 cup Honeydew melon, cubed
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
This warm weather salad is yummy and easy to prepare. Chill watermelon, then cut into 3/4" cubes. Cut the feta cheese into ½" cubes. Toss with other melon cubes and the fresh sweet mint leaves just prior to serving. Serve in chilled cups. Serves 4.