We were in Minnesota over the weekend, visiting my family. On Friday night, my mom had plans to make her famous bucatini with sausage and peas. A family friend was joining us and bringing a salad. And, on a whim, I decided to throw together some bruschetta, using the cantaloupe in the fridge and the slices of prosciutto that my stepdad had brought home from the Italian deli. There’s nothing new about the cantaloupe-prosciutto combination, but—for some reason—it’s been sounding wonderful to me all summer.
I gave half the melon a small dice and fried up several slices of the prosciutto, which I had cut into thin ribbons. While a sliced baguette toasted in the oven, I quick-pickled a large shallot that I’d thinly sliced, using my go-to brine, with its healthy pinch of red pepper flakes. I stirred together the diced melon, most of the fried prosciutto (I reserved about a quarter of it to scatter on top of the plate, so it would stay nice and crisp), the shallots, some thinly sliced basil, a splash of the pickling liquid, and a good swirl of olive oil. I heaped the mixture onto the toasted bread slices, and topped it all with the reserved prosciutto.
It was gorgeous and delicious … and all I had was my iPhone … and I hadn’t taken very good notes of what I was doing as I went along. I feared that I would lose this recipe to the place where on-a-whim, unrecorded recipes go to die. To avoid that fate (and before melon season is too far gone!), I snapped a camera photo (above) and pulled together an approximation of the recipe (below).
Serves 6 as an appetizer
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal in 1/4-inch slices
4 slices prosciutto, sliced into thin ribbons
1/2 cantaloupe, seeds and rind removed, small diced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Preheat oven to 350.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the cold water, vinegar, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and red pepper flakes; whisk until the salt and sugar dissolve. Stir in the sliced shallot. Set aside.
Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until very lightly browned.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, fry the prosciutto over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel.
In a large bowl, combine the diced melon, sliced basil, 3/4 of the fried prosciutto, the pickled shallots (reserving the pickling liquid). Stir. Drizzle a splash of the pickling liquid and some olive oil into the mixture. Taste and add more pickling liquid, olive oil and/or salt as necessary.
Arrange the toasted baguette slices on a plate. Heap the melon mixture on top of the slices. (Depending on the size of your baguette, you may have extra baguette slices or extra topping—neither are terrible outcomes!) Top with the reserved prosciutto.