Tag: cantaloupe melon

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad with Mint

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad

This is the official start to my salad season. In the next month, I’ll be indulging – daily – in simple yet scrumptious compositions of tasty vegetables and juice-dripping fruits. Chopped and tossed with a quick vinaigrette or just a dash of olive oil and some flaky sea salt from Gozo. Ripe tomatoes, cucumber, fennel, radicchio, carrots and peas, the sweetest peaches, pears, and plums – summertime offers a firework of flavours and I’m ready to celebrate each single one of them.

My next few weeks will bring the kind of temperature into my life that makes you think twice if it’s really necessary to switch on the gas cooker. We’ll be off to Malta soon and that means it will be 30°C (90°F) in the early morning and more than 40°C (105°F) at noon – this calls for a different menu. It’ll be hot, but I won’t complain, it’s the time of the year that I look forward to the most. I can run around in an airy dress all day and late night swims won’t leave me chilled – it’s warm enough to sit on the rocks with wet hair when the sun has already sunk into the sea. I can basically live outside 24 hours a day, that’s my kind of paradise.

In the Mediterranean, you have to go with the flow and stay flexible, so we keep the cooking plan as open as possible to adjust to our mood. You can always find a large jar of fresh, homemade basil pesto in the fridge and, of course, the whole variety of Malta’s crop fresh from my favourite farmer Leli’s fields, all piled up on the table and shelves. Fresh oregano, marjoram, basil, and the spiciest arugula are ready to be picked in the garden and always at hand to refine a chunk of creamy mozzarella di bufala, a crunchy bruschetta from the BBQ, or a 5-ingredient pasta dish: Give me spaghetti, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs and I’m happy. If I’m lucky, there will still be a few lemons on the tree in the family garden in Msida. The season’s over but my Maltese mama always keeps a few fruits on the tree for me, she knows how much a German girl enjoys the treat of picking the lemon for her morning tea straight from the branch.

I decided that I’ll spoil myself with a kind of luxury that doesn’t cost anything: To slow down and keep it simple, to let go of constant planning and rigid expectations. I know that I’ll sit at the sea for hours, quite possible every day, but that’s as far as my schedule goes. We’ll be away for a month to stay with our Mediterranean family, we won’t stop working, but we’ll definitely take a great chunk of time off, it will be a different pace. To give myself enough time for the transition from my northern to my southern rhythm, I’ll prepare a few recipes here in Berlin to share with you in the first two weeks of my holiday. Once I get into the groove, I’ll write about my Maltese kitchen life. Until then, I will enjoy a foretaste of what my taste buds have to expect: a simple salad of velvety avocado, honey-sweet Cantaloupe melon, and crispy fennel – topped with fresh mint and a light vinaigrette.

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad

 

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad with Mint

Serves 2

For the dressing

olive oil 3 tablespoons
white balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the salad

soft avocado, peeled and cut into thin wedges, 1
small fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced, 1
small Cantaloupe melon, peeled and cut into thin wedges, 1/2
fresh mint leaves, a small handful

For the dressing, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the avocado, fennel, and melon in layers in a wide bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with mint leaves and serve immediately.

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad

 

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Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

I have a weak spot for pastis, chilled with two ice cubes and a shot of water and I also use it to refine my recipes. I mentioned yesterday that I love this liqueur, it’s my favourite drink in bars and bistros. In summer it feels refreshing and in winter time I get a cosy feeling from the strong anise aroma. It’s my drink, for years now!

A while ago I travelled along the Côte d’Azur in my car. One afternoon I was seduced by the sight of a lonely bay and decided to stop for a quick swim. I left all my luggage in the car (I was young and unexperienced in traveling) and went for a late afternoon swim. When I got back, the car was gone and I was left with the clothes on my body, a towel and my wallet. I was in a mess, it was the first time something was stolen from me so I did what lots of daughter’s do in a situation like this and called my mother.

Crying and sobbing, I tried to explain the situation on the phone. I wasn’t in a state for a proper conversation, I felt ashamed. My mother, who is quite a pragmatic character, told me to calm down, get everything organised at the police station and then head to the next decent looking bar and have a pastis. I obeyed, the drink worked and I chilled out! In the end, I even got my car back but the luggage was gone (mine, my boyfriend’s bags were still there!). I found out that the thieves tend to take the cars to a quiet place to empty them, lesson learnt! I never left my luggage unattended in a car again but I also understood that any material loss is frustrating but not a tragedy!

Over the years I found out that my beloved pastis has lots of potential in the kitchen, sweet and savory. Here’s a fruity recipe which is a great summery alternative to an aperitif, sweet little balls of Cantaloupe melon in pastis! All you need is a ripe melon, either cut into cubes or scooped out with a melon baller (I found out about this strange name just a few days ago). You mix the fruit with pastis and water and pick them out of a whiskey glass with cocktail picks (or toothpicks).

It’s my birthday today and this will definitely be one of my treats!

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

 

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

This is a rough guideline which you can easily adapt to your taste

For 4-6 people you need

a ripe Cantaloupe melon
pastis, chilled, to taste

For 12 balls of melon mix 1 1/2 shots of pastis with 1 1/2 shots of water and pour over the fruit. Put 6 fruity balls in a whiskey glass and fill just the bottom with the pastis/ water mixture. Serve with cocktail picks or wooden toothpicks.

You can either make it fresh and serve immediately or let the fruit soak for a few hours (which will increase their alcoholic impact), in which case you should keep it in the fridge.

This recipe focuses on the fruit rather than on the drink. You could also make a cocktail by adding just 2-3 balls of melon to a glass of 2cl of pastis filled with water and 1-2 ice cubes.

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

 

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

 

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

 

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis