Melons have their place in savory meals for summer
Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew are sweet staples of the season
Hot Texas summers and watermelon were just made for each other. Same goes for cantaloupe and honeydew. Area markets will be stocked with perfectly ripe specimens of all three through the season.
But look out, fruit salad. This trinity has been showing its savory side lately.
Despite their pronounced sweetness, melons are versatile players in the kitchen. Technically members of the Cucurbitaceae family, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew are relatives of other gourds and squashes including pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers and more. As such, they all have a certain vegetal taste and texture lingering behind their bold, fruity flavor.
On restaurant menus in San Antonio, one can find watermelon in an arugula and prosciutto salad at Stella Public House and cantaloupe tossed with jicama, cucumber, tomato and powdered guajillo chiles at The Frutería-Botanero. Honeydew even snuck into a course at the progressive Mexican restaurant Mixtli last year, partnered with lobster and avocado.
But you don’t need a toque and a culinary degree to get in on the action at home.
This week we’ve whipped up six dishes — two each for watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew — that capitalize on their respective savory virtues.
Some will feel quite familiar. We’ve probably all had cantaloupe paired with a cured ham of some sort. Our version adds a quick char on the grill and a splash of parsley-infused oil. Another might seem completely alien: a new take on carne guisada that includes watermelon rind in the hearty beef stew.
Others, like a petite stack of watermelon rounds layered with an herby shrimp salad, smartly pair the natural sweetness of both the fruit and seafood.
The carne guisada aside, these are largely dishes that can be prepared without spending more than a few minutes at the stove or grill and with ingredients available in most grocery stores — just the ticket as the thermometer continues to linger just south of triple-digit territory. Now how sweet is that?
Wheat Berry Salad with Honeydew, Cucumbers and Feta Cheese
This twist on carne guisada includes watermelon rind.