I am patiently letting a cantaloupe ripen on the vine right now. Every day or so, I go out to the garden and tug gently on it in hopes that it will slip into my hands so I can have it for breakfast. But not yet, not yet.
I have already picked one cantaloupe, but it was a little before its time. It was starting to split and I was worried it would rot. The flavor and texture were reminiscent of cucumber, not at all the sweet, floral taste of a really ripe cantaloupe. (Actually, my homegrown cucumbers have been sweeter.)
So I wait for my second cantaloupe and try not to get impatient. Whether you get your cantaloupes from the market or the garden, Salon has posted a really useful guide to how to choose cantaloupes.
But what about when the tomatoes aren’t yet ripe or you’re avoiding them because of salmonella fears? Why not try the caprese salad with other fruits? (Yes, tomatoes are fruit.)
Here, I mixed fresh mozzarella balls with cubes of juicy cantaloupe and drizzled it with a basil vinaigrette. I think avocado or mango would also make terrific substitutions. Who says you have to wait until the end of summer to enjoy a caprese salad?
Time to make: ~5 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
For the dressing, combine in a blender or food processor:
- 2 tbsp. champagne or white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 small handfuls basil leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
On each plate, layer:
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella or mozzarella balls
- 4 slices cantaloupe or other fresh fruit
Drizzle over the dressing.
I was out in the herb garden/bulb/annual bed area of our front yard when I got a surprise. Hidden under a juniper bush that we affectionately call the “alien” was this:
Now, I knew there was an errant vine in that bed, which had probably sprouted from a seed in the compost. But other than admiring how it was twining around one of my Adirondack chairs, I hadn’t paid it any attention. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to put out any fruit.
The truth is that I had been neglecting this part of my front yard due to the extreme temperatures and drought conditions we’ve been under for the last month and a half. It seemed easier to just let the garden go altogether and clear out the damage when it gets a little cooler (even this weekend, it is in the 90s). I think this just goes to show that some things thrive more under well-intentioned neglect than care and attention. At least, this seems to be the rule of thumb for pretty much everything I plant (whether intentionally or not).
I’ll definitely keep an eye on this cantaloupe and see if it fares better than my other volunteers. At last check, it was still mostly green but definitely shading toward ripe. I’m getting excited thinking about this unexpected gift of garden-fresh cantaloupe!