Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crisp n' Spice

I've actually never bought and prepared any type of melon before but I couldn't pass up the opportunity when I saw cantaloupes for 97 cents at my local grocery store. I stood a bit clueless in front of the mounds of melons, trying to remember how to check for ripeness. I felt around, chose one and smelled it after recalling how the smell test is used to check the ripeness of pineapples. I figured I was on the right track. 
According to Albert's Organics, I only had one of the five indicators of ripeness:
  1. Stem
  2. Netting
  3. Color
  4. Touch 
  5. Smell

Once I got home and tried to be productive - my foodie brain and starving tummy took over and I started coming up with ways I could use the cantaloupe. Aguas Frescas, smoothies, salads…. 
Then all of a sudden inspiration hit: Pam's Patio mojito salad. In high school and during my time home from college for the summer I used to work at this small yet delightful mom and pop restaurant in San Antonio called Pam's Patio Kitchen. It's one of those places full of color, art and delicious food with constant regulars dining every weekend. During the summer the head chef and restaurant owner would create a mojito salad with jicama, cantaloupe, pepitas, mint paprika and a sweet lime dressing. Essentially the perfect salad for summer.  

Reflecting on all the delicious food and memories I have from Pam's, I decided to make my own version of the delicious salad.
Crisp n' Spice Cantaloupe Salad 
1/2 Cantaloupe 
1 frozen lemon cube (melted)
Fresh grated ginger (to taste - I put lots)
1/2 tsp of chili powder
Pinch of salt
Handful of pepitas 

I cut up my melon into quarters and then cubes, the cantaloupe turned out to be a little less ripe than I wanted (the 4 indicators I was unaware of are to blame). After chopping the melon I placed it on a bed of of julienned baby kale and topped it with the dressing (lemon juice, ginger, chili powder combined). Finally I sprinkled on a healthy portion of pepitas to seal the deal. The salad was crisp and cool and had a tiny bit of spice from the chili powder. The fact that the cantaloupe wasn't completely ripe actually helped give the salad a little more crunch. It definitely wouldn't have the same appeal if it was slimy and gooey. 

There we go - my first experience with melons. Now what to do with the second half sitting in my fridge? 

Thanks to PPK for all the ridiculous memories. I've got so many stories from that place, although those involve a lot more spice than food. 

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