This Melon and Prosciutto Salad salad says two words in every bite: Italy and summer. Served as an appetizer is a must. I also love it as the main course during lunch, better if al fresco.
I seasoned this melon and prosciutto salad with ciliegine, arugula and basil, with O Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, sent to me by O Olive Oil & Vinegar as a gift.
The first time I had melon and prosciutto was in my hometown, Caracas, Venezuela. There, Italian restaurants served cantaloupe balls with bite-size prosciutto rolls as an appetizer. That was also the first time I ate fruit and a savory ingredient in the same dish —and I couldn’t appreciate it and found it boring, instead.
Love at second bite
It wasn’t until I went to Italy during the summer of 1991 that I fell in love with a melon and prosciutto salad. That salad also had my favorite arugula, and ciliegine (bite-size mozzarella balls, a little bit smaller than bocconcini.)
I went back to northern Italy in the summer of 2000 to celebrate my 40th birthday. That trip took me from Milan to Brescia, Verona, Venice, and then to Vienna and Paris. While in Italy, melon salad with prosciutto became my favorite appetizer. Tossed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil, it was a real tribute to the flavors of the summer season.
I was craving this salad since I moved to my new place and planted two sweet basils and a purple basil plant. They doubled their size in less than two weeks. OMG, what a joy! I’d forgotten what was to grow my own herbs since my herb garden disappeared with hurricane Irma, back in 2017.
Two weeks ago we moved and the first thing I did was to get my terracotta planters, some dirt and a few small herb plants. Now, besides my basil, I have thyme, rosemary and flat parsley. Soon, I will have spearmint and maybe arugula too, even if I’m not sure I can grow rockets in South Florida. We will see.
How to make melon & prosciutto salad
Now, back to my recipe. I made it with both cantaloupe and honeydew melons, scooped into little balls. I personally prefer honeydew, but cantaloupe adds that beautiful salmon color, so it’s a must.
To make this salad, I first dressed the arugula with an extraordinary olive oil: O Meyer Lemon Olive Oil. This oil is what its name states: organic Meyer lemon and California Mission olives, all crushed and cold pressed together. Nothing else. Not infused. No extracts of artificial flavoring added. Nada. Absolutely citrusy, it’s the opera prima of master olive oil blender, CEO and founder of O Olive Oil & Vinegar, Greg Hinson.
Once I dressed my arugula with this singular delicious olive oil, I added the two melon varieties, the ciliegine, prosciutto, and fresh basil, and then drizzle my salad with my balsamic vinegar reduction and some freshly ground black pepper.
This salad is heaven on earth. The sweetness of the melons contrasts with the nutty bitterness of the arugula, the citrusy olive oil, the creaminess of the mozzarella and the saltiness of the prosciutto, all topped with the intense acidic sweetness of the balsamic vinegar reduction. I couldn’t ask for more.
A few notes about the ingredients
- Scooping melons could be the most inefficient way to cut melons: there is a lot of waste. But you can save the scraps for other uses, including smoothies, granitas, mojitos, margaritas, sorbets, popsicles, and gazpachos.
- Not that you need a melon baller, but the little balls look so cute that I definitely recommend you to get one. You can order one online.
- There, you can also order the superb O Meyer Lemon Olive Oil.
- Learn more about O Olive Oil & Vinegar and their amazing sustainable business in California.
Melon & Prosciutto Salad
- 3 cups baby arugula
- 2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil I used O Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
- 2 cups cantaloupe scooped in balls
- 2 cups honeydew scooped in balls
- 1 ½ cups fresh mozzarella I used ciliegine (cherry size mozzarella balls)
- 6 slices prosciutto torn
- 10 basil leaves cut in chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar reduction
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl add the arugula and season it with the olive oil.
- Add the melons, mozzarella and combine.
- Distribute the prosciutto evenly.
- Sprinkle the basil.
- Toss with the balsamic vinegar reduction.
- Crack some black pepper on top.