Fresh From the Farm – Katie Malich

Locally grown seasonal summer fruit keeps continues to arrive at our Culver City farmers markets.
Our Tehachapi apple growers have had wonderfully sweet Asian melons for sale at their stands for a while now. I really love them for breakfast when I’m not on the run. Their smaller size is perfect for two. What better way than to start the day than to savor the juicy, delicately perfumed pale flesh of these subtle, sweet melons?
The late spring-early summer bounty of Asian melons continues unabated. But farmers market shoppers will start noticing more and more farmers bringing the first of our locally grown watermelon, cantaloupe, crenshaw, honeydew and European melons.
How do you enjoy your summer melons?
I think it’s fair to say that we all have enjoyed sliced watermelon, halved cantaloupes, and colorful bowls of mixed melon balls accented with drizzled lemon-honey dressing and sprigs of mint. Tried, true, and perfectly wonderful with vine-ripened fruit.
I’ve got to admit it hadn’t occurred to me to mix melon with salami or with tomatoes until I ran across some recipes pairing these unlikely combinations. But I’ve got to admit that it does make some sense. If you enjoy prosciutto with melon, then why not try your melon with a little bit of salami? And, while we think of tomatoes as a vegetable, technically they are fruit. I eat melon in mixed fruit salads all the time. So adding one fruit – tomatoes — to another fruit – melons — makes perfect sense to me.

Watermelon-Tomato Salad
(6 servings)

3 c. melon-balled watermelon
3 c. cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1  T. fresh lime juice
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
generous pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
(optional: garnish with 4 or 5 T. feta cheese, crumbled or basil sprigs.)
I’ve adopted this recipe from one I found on the internet. I’ve fallen madly, passionately in love with the combination of fresh basil and watermelon. Since fresh basil is currently in season, I’ve substituted the original recipe’s mint leaves with fresh basil leaves. If you are unable to find good looking fresh basil, you can substitute fresh mint leaves instead. If you’re looking for some color contrast, use Sun Gold yellow cherry tomatoes instead of the grape tomatoes. They are a tad more sweet than yellow grape tomatoes, although the yellow grape tomatoes would also work in the recipe.
To make, combine the watermelon balls and halved tomatoes in a serving bowl. Combine lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk. Drizzle over chopped fruit. Sprinkle fresh basil leases over top of salad and toss well. If desired, garnish with crumbled feta. (Can be omitted if vegan dish is desired.)

Melon-Salami Salad

Santa Cruz County chef Jonathan Miller recently shared his recipe for melon-salami salad on the weekly Mariquita Farms Ladybug Postcard. He doesn’t specify what type of melon he uses for this salad, but I think cantaloupe is robust enough to hold its ground when combined with salami. Feel free, though, to try other melons with this recipe, and let me know what you think.

1 medium sized cantaloupe, peel and seeds removed, flesh cut into large dice
2-3 oz hard Italian salami, cut into matchsticks or julienned
2-4 T. olive oil (fruity flavored olive oil works best)
1-2 t. white wine vinegar
1 T. chopped chives or green onions (green parts only)
salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the melon and salami together in a large serving bowl. Add a 2-4 T. fruity olive oil and 1-2 t. white wine vinegar. Toss in the chives. Sprinkle the salt and pepper. Mix together gently. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. This dish is perfect lightly chilled or at room temperature.

The Tuesday Culver City Farmers Market is held from 2 to 7 pm on Tuesdays on Main Street, between Venice and Culver Boulevards. The Culver South Farmers Market is held on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City parking lot between Hannum and Slauson Aves.

Katie Malich enjoys cantaloupe halves or quarters stuffed with non-fat cottage cheese and topped with toasted wheat germ and walnut pieces.

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