Cucumber and Honeydew Salad 

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad What’s New Honeydew?
If you find yourself in our produce department this week you might notice that the honeydew melons are on sale. I love melons of all kinds but there is something about a cold slice of mint green honeydew on a hot day that is incredibly refreshing. The thing is, I tend to stick with the usual when it comes to melons. I slice em and eat em. But there are so many things you can do with melons…

One of the things I admire about my sister is her knack for finding and making interesting recipes that I would most likely skip over because I think my kids wouldn’t eat it or I’m just not too sure it would taste good. She is fearless and she made one of these recipes for dinner when we were up at Tahoe last week.

When you are feeding ten people on a nightly basis, the urge to go with the basics for the side dishes can be strong. On this particular night, we were grilling chicken. There is very little that doesn’t go with chicken. So, the side dish possibilities were endless. In this case, my sister went with a melon salad, and it was a nice change from just a bunch of slices on a platter…per the norm. The addition of chilies for heat, some pistachios for crunch, and little cheese for creaminess made this way better than ordinary.

I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe. It is not one I would have normally chosen—which makes me wonder what other flavors I have missed out on because of hesitation. One thing I will say is that I think my sister used goat cheese because that was all we had on hand. Personally, I am not a huge fan of goat cheese or feta, which was listed as an alternative in the magazine. The original recipe calls for ricotta salata which would add a nice saltiness to the sweetness of the melon. I also think a queso fresco or even a creamy burrata could work really well.

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad 
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Yields 4 servings

1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 jalapeño or Fresno chile, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons. white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 English hothouse cucumber, halved crosswise, then halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out with a spoon
1/4 medium-ripe honeydew melon rind removed
5 ounces ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta) or queso fresco
1/2 cup basil leaves

Toast the pepitas
This can be done in an oven that is preheated to 350 ºF or a toaster oven. Just be certain to watch them carefully and don’t over-toast. They should be golden brown and smell fragrant when finished. Transfer them to a plate immediately to stop cooking.

After they are cool, finely chop 2 tablespoons and reserve the rest for later.

Make the dressing
Whisk the chopped pepitas, sliced chili peppers, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl. Gradually stream in the oil, whisking continuously until it emulsifies. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Prepare the salad
Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the cucumber and honeydew lengthwise into long strips. Slice the cheese into planks. Add everything to a serving bowl with the reserved pepitas (or arrange on serving plates). Drizzle with dressing and serve.

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