Melon Tartare: An Exercise in Refreshing Goodness

Monday, February 4, 2013

I love a salad that thinks outside of the box and this one certainly does! Based off of my recipe for watermelon tartare (a play on the classic raw tuna version, I sub out the tuna with watermelon for a whimsical and absolutely delicious take -- recipe in the cookbook!), this time I take sweet honeydew melon and combine it with crisp and refreshing cucumber and creamy avocado for a beautiful and well balanced base. Cucumber and red onion add a crunchy texture to combat the creamy avocado, and very finely diced jalapeno adds heat to balance out the sweetness of the melon. To further catapult the salad into heavenly refreshment is fresh mint. Seasonings are kept quite simple -- salt and freshly ground black pepper -- and good quality extra virgin olive oil add a silky richness to bring the whole dish home. This is just wonderful on its own, or as a compliment to cooked fish or chicken. I've served this with crispy wontons for a really festive appetizer. Enjoy it. 

Melon Tartare
1 honeydew melon, peeled and seeded then diced into very small bite-sized cubes 
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded then diced small (same size as melon)
2 ripe avocados, seeded and diced small (same size as melon and cucumber)
1/2 cup red onion, very finely chopped
1 jalapeno, very finely chopped (seeded for mild version) 
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
course sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
good quality extra virgin olive oil 

Place the melon, cucumber, avocados, red onion, jalapeno, mint, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour the lime juice over. Drizzle enough olive oil to moisten everything in a very, very light coating (you don't want this heavy with oil, so about 1 good tablespoon is enough!). Using a spatula, very gently fold the ingredients all together. Be very, very careful not to break up the avocado too much; otherwise you'll get a weird creamy dressing instead of a crisp composed salad. Serve immediately or cover and chill for 30 min then serve. 

Serving Suggestion:
If making for a party, I like serving the salad in small individual cups. Plain plastic tumblers work perfectly. If for smaller company I'll take some glasses and chill them in the freezer first, then add the salad inside. If I'm serving as a side dish family style, I'll place the entire salad in a lovely bowl next to whatever protein I'm serving.

And a garnish of fresh mint never hurt no one ;).

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