As a child in Northern California, melons were a summer staple in our garden (we grew watermelon, crenshaw, honeydew, casaba and cantaloupe), but I always had a soft spot for cantaloupe. Sweet, dense, with a gorgeous orange (my favorite color!) flesh, these versatile melons can be used in everything from gazpacho to sorbet. Of course, cantaloupe is pretty terrific eaten as-is!
But really, it doesn’t matter how you enjoy it. Just eat it! At least weekly during the summer. Why? Because it’s outrageously nutritious! A one-cup serving of cantaloupe (also known as muskmelon) will give you 78% of the dietary recommended allowance of vitamin C, 30% of vitamin A and 12% of potassium—all at around 54 calories. It is rich in antioxidant phytonutrients that help the body repair itself and fight the inflammation hat can lead to heart disease, cancer and other health conditions. It even contains small amounts of omega 3 fatty acid!
To make it easy to add cantaloupe to your summer diet, let me offer one of my favorites: Cantaloupe Salsa. The recipe is really more of a guide than a strict recipe. Use whatever cantaloupe (of any size) you have on hand. Add cilantro if you don’t have parsley. Try it with ginger or red pepper flakes. Sub in lemon or lime juice for the vinegar if you’d prefer. Add something else if you are so moved to. Make it your own! It’s wonderful with grilled meats, poultry, fish, or even black bean tacos. My husband and one of my kids eat this as a salad and I’ve even stirred a cup of leftover salad into a pot of quinoa for a fast, delicious summer pilaf. (Wow, was that good!)
Let me know how you like it! And as always, if you have a favorite way to eat something I’ve talked about, email me a note with the recipe! I adore getting recipes from you!!!
Makes about 4 to 7 cups, depending upon the size of your cantaloupe
1 large cantaloupe (or 1.5 smaller cantaloupes), peeled, seeded and diced in 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoon white balsamic or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Dash salt and pepper
1. Toss cantaloupe, onion, parsley, mint, vinegar and oil in a bowl.
2. Allow flavors to meld for 30 minutes to an hour before using. Add salt and pepper as desired at serving time. (Adding the salt early draws moisture out of the ingredients, making for a soggy salsa—best to do this right at serving time.)
Another fun way to enjoy cantaloupe is dried cantaloupe. Yep, this is actually a thing! My kids love dried cantaloupe slices or crispy-chewy freeze-dried cantaloupe nuggets (which you can use as a topper or make a quick trail mix by combining with cashews and walnuts.)