Fire and Ice Melon Salad

Serves 8

This is a John Ash recipe. I took a couple of cooking classes from him, and this is one of the recipes we made. It’s a perfect summertime dish to start a lunch or dinner.  The heat of the serrano chiles contrasts with the cool, refreshing melon and the mint and lime to add interesting counterpoints, but you can use any of your favorite chiles — jalapeños are less spicy.

1/3 cup sugar or honey

1/4 cup white wine or water

1 teaspoon seeded and minced serrano Chiles or to taste

1 tablespoon each finely diced red and yellow bell peppers

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

2 large honeydew, cantaloupe, crane or other ripe melon

8 fresh ripe figs, fanned

Garnish:  Edible flower petals such as nasturtium, borage and or day lily, if desired

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and wine and over moderate heat stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the Chiles and peppers and cool.  Stir in the lime juice and mint.  Syrup can be stored covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

To serve:  Cut melons in half and remove seeds.  Cut into decorative shapes and arrange attractively on chilled plates.  Spoon Chile syrup over melon and arrange figs attractively around.  Sprinkle with edible flower petals.

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