Simple Sides: Refreshing Melon Salad


Welcome back to Simple Sides! Every Thursday this month, some bloggy friends and I will be bringing you super simple and delicious side dishes to get you through the dog days of summer. Last week, Steph The Cheapskate Cook shared with us her Tomato Basil Bruschetta. In the next couple weeks you’ll hear from Mary at Barefeet in the Kitchen and Nancy from Real Food Allergy Free, but today you’re stuck with me.

I hope you don’t mind. Hopefully you won’t be disappointed.

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Simple Sides: Refreshing Melon Salad
August 11, 2011 By Anne Simpson

Welcome back to Simple Sides! Every Thursday this month, some bloggy friends and I will be bringing you super simple and delicious side dishes to get you through the dog days of summer. Last week, Steph The Cheapskate Cook shared with us her Tomato Basil Bruschetta. In the next couple weeks you’ll hear from Mary at Barefeet in the Kitchen and Nancy from Real Food Allergy Free, but today you’re stuck with me.

I hope you don’t mind. Hopefully you won’t be disappointed.

Not much compares with fruit for its simplicity in preparation, which is probably why my mind often goes in that direction when seeking a quick side dish that won’t heat up my kitchen. If you browse through my meal plans, you’ll realize quickly that fresh fruit is featured frequently every week, usually multiple times. My DH can’t tolerate very many raw vegetables (none, actually), but he can eat quite a variety of raw fresh fruits, which is one more reason they show up at our table on a regular basis.

I often just chop up whatever fruit is in the fridge into a take-it-or-leave-it conglomeration, but I also like to come up with intentional creations that take into consideration flavors, textures and colors. There are a few such standbys that serve me well (like Stone Fruit Salad, or Honey Lime Fruit Dressing), but now and then the urge strikes to try something new and perk up the taste buds with some additional, unexpected flavor.

This was the position I found myself in a couple weeks ago, when I had a strange new melon I had bought at the Farmer’s Market. I think it was a canary melon, at least it looked alot like this:

At only $2.00, I figured it wasn’t that much of a risk if we didn’t love it, but thankfully, even that $2.00 was not a waste. The flesh tasted like a mild honeydew melon and had a pleasantly smooth texture. Its fragrance was fresh and inviting, which may be why the thought of combining it with citrus was tempting.

In my search for melon inspiration, I found a recipe originally intended for casaba melon, but easily adapted to other melons. I was hooked by the combination of ingredients far removed from my typical honey-based fruit dressings; in fact, there was no sweetener involved at all, which is of course a huge plus in my book. I was also quite pleased that it was naturally allergen-free, requiring no adaptation to make it suitable for my Certain Little Someone.

The original recipe calls for the juice and zest of a lime combined with coconut milk (Let’s hear it now: “Put the lime in the coconut, the lime in the coconut….”), which is a pairing I love, but alas, I had no limes. I did, however, have a bag full of clementines I had found on sale, so I switched out the lime with a clementine.

An inspired choice, truly. The lighter tang of the clementine joined perfectly with the mild flavor of the melon, highlighting it but not overpowering it, and adding a delightful touch of extra flavor. And despite the lack of sweetener, the resulting fruit salad was deliciously sweet just as it was.

And the best part? No oven was turned on in the process of making this fruit salad.

How QUICK was that? OK, so refrigeration can take a while, but here’s a time-saving tip: Make this salad first before starting the rest of your meal, and it will be ready to go when you are.

So EASY, too, except maybe chopping the melon. Here’s another tip: Chop your melon when you buy it, and store it in a container made specifically for the purpose of storing produce (I like Tupperware’s FridgeSmart series), so it’s ready to eat when you want to eat it. Be sure to use it within a few days, though.

Let’s break down the cost and figure out how CHEAP it is (or isn’t): I bought the melon for $2.00, as I said, and I used about half of it or so. I have recently discovered that Bloom carries Goya canned coconut milk for $0.99 a can (Trader Joe’s carries the lite version for the same price), and this recipe uses less than half a can. I used a clementine from a bag that cost $2.99 and contained 10-12 clementines, and the cost of the shredded coconut is negligible. That brings our total for this dish to less than $2.00, not too bad!

It’s certainly very HEALTHY! Combining the fruit with the coconut milk is a stroke of genius, because the fat in the coconut helps your body to absorb the many nutrients found in the melon and citrus fruits. Check more blogs here.