Prosciutto e Melone with Insalata Caprese
Two Italian classics in one dish
Recipe and photos by Josee Brisson
Although these two Italian classics are usually served separately, I have been combining them into one dish for a few years now. So today, I am sharing what has become one of my favourite summer dishes with you.
In Montreal, we are spoiled with an abundance of fresh and local produce. I recommend you visit your local farmer’s market to pick up everything you need for this recipe. As there are only four main ingredients in this recipe, purchasing the best and freshest of ingredients is of the utmost importance.
Choosing a perfectly ripe cantaloupe can be a daunting endeavour. Simply ask a vendor at your favourite farmer’s market for help and you will secure the most fragrant and juicy melon you have ever tasted. While you are there, pick up sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes as well.
If you are able to get your hands on fresh mozzarella, please do so! If not, use cocktail size bocconcini so that the three main ingredients are of the same size.
As there are only four main ingredients in this recipe, purchasing the best and freshest of ingredients is of the utmost importance.
Whether you choose prosciutto di Parma, di Modena or di San Daniele is up to you. The key is to have it sliced by a butcher rather than purchasing pre-packaged slices. Ask your butcher to slice the dry-cured ham as thinly as possible, and to separate each slice with a sheet of paper. This is important as the thin slices will stick together and will actually tear apart when you try to separate them.
The classic insalata Caprese usually calls for whole basil leaves. Nevertheless, I prefer to make basil oil. Not only is it a cinch to prepare, but you will also find every excuse possible to make it all summer long.
I am a huge fan of rosé wines for spring and summer, and I like to serve them very cold. Here, I accompanied this sweet and savoury salad with Masi Rosa dei Masi 2014, by Masi Agricola SPA. This utterly delightful rosé from the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, is a fruity and full-bodied wine that is both dry and refreshing.
Prosciutto e Melone with Insalata Caprese
Half cantaloupe, seeds removed
10 cherry tomatoes, washed and dried
10 cocktail-size bocconcini cheese
5 slices of prosciutto, each sliced in half lengthwise
Small basil leaves for garnish
Fleur de sel
Freshly ground black pepper
Remove the leaves from three sprigs of basil and drop them in a blender. Top with 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil and a good pinch of fleur de sel. Blend until smooth. I prefer to serve this oil unfiltered, but you can choose to pour it through a fine mesh sieve to remove all the particles.
Using a melon baller matching the size of the cherry tomatoes and bocconcini, harvest 10 balls of cantaloupe and place them in a serving bowl. Cut the cherry tomatoes and bocconcini in half and add to the bowl. Mix well.
Drizzle the salad first with balsamic glaze, and then with basil oil. Season with fleur de sel and pepper, and garnish with small basil leaves.
Arrange ten little mounds of prosciutto on a plate to accompany the salad. And serve with slices of fresh baguette to mop up all the exquisite juices from this fabulous insalata!
Buon appetito a tutti!
My previous recipes in WestmountMag.ca:
Roasted Tomatoes and Herbed Feta Crostini
Grilled Halloumi Cheese with Pomegranate Arils and Syrup
Roasted Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese and Rose-scented Honey
Oven-roasted Almonds with Garlic, Rosemary and Thyme
Melted Fontina Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes
Pan Seared Scallops with Perfumed Coconut Milk Reduction, Cilantro Oil, Passion Fruit Juice
Sunny Lemony Stracciatella Zuppa
Marinated Olives with Preserved Lemon Dirty Vodka Martini
Pear and Blue Cheese Crostini
Tortilla de Patatas
Beef Carpaccio with Bagel Chips
Matane Shrimp, Asparagus and Pink Grapefruit Salad
Red Beet, Goat Cheese and Raspberry Napoleons
Josee Brisson is a culinary creator passionate about archaeology, mythology, history, literature, and the arts. She trained as a professional cook at École Hôtelière des Laurentides, in Sainte-Adèle, Québec. Among other food projects, she collaborated on two cookbooks with world-renowned food and wine expert François Chartier, and offered a Chef at Home service. Josee is also a translator, researcher and social media community manager.
Her cookbook, L’Apéro: Appetizers & Cocktails, was #1 Best Seller in Appetizer Cooking at Amazon. Here’s the link to Josee’s book.