The Kiss Melons I featured in our last 4PM Panic post were so delicious, I wanted to share one more recipe idea starring these sugary fruits for this week’s edition. Panzanella salad has long been one of my favorites. Back in my college days, I worked at a restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI that served the most delicious Italian food. One of their signature salads was, and still is, the Panzanella Salad.
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad consisting mainly of bread and tomatoes that is popular in the summer when the ingredients are at their peak. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, oftentimes adding onions and fresh basil, dressed with simple olive oil and vinegar and salt and fresh cracked pepper. Here, I’ve added the delicious element of sweet juicy kiss melon and a hint of fresh mint. The saltiness of the prosciutto pairs wonderfully with the sweet melon while the bread soaks up the combined dressing and juices. This is one of my favorite summertime dishes.
- 1 baguette, ends trimmed and cut into about 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 Tuscan cantaloupe, diced into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 a cup of hard salami diced (optional)
- several slices of prosciutto
- large handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/4 of thinly sliced red onions
- 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
- small handful of fresh mint, chopped, plus more whole smaller leaves for garnish
- small handful of basil, chopped, plus more whole smaller leaves for garnish
- 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- a few shavings of parmesan
- sea or kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil for browning bread
- Cut the bread into 1-2 inch chunks. spread out onto a cookie sheet in a single layer.
- Drizzle with olive oil to very lightly coat. toss them to evenly disperse the olive oil. Toast them under the broiler. Watch them closely, this just takes a minute or two. toss them once more and return to the broiler to brown on the opposite side. They are ready when they are slightly light brown.
- In a bowl combine the melon, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, basil and mint and mix to combine.
- Add the toasted bread. Use your hands or tongs and toss the bread with the cantaloupe. Gently and lightly squeeze the ingredients with your hands so that the juice releases and gets soaked up with some of the bread.
- Make the dressing by whisking the balsamic vinegar and olive oil together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pour the bread and cantaloupe onto a platter. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Add the salami and prosciutto and parmesan over the salad and garnish with smaller leaves of mint and basil.
- Finish with flake sea salt.