This Crispy Prosciutto & Juicy Melon Salad Is Summer at Its Finest

July 10, 2018

“It looks good. It tastes good. It’s easy,” Ina Garten says. “My kind of no-cooking cooking!”

She’s wearing her signature button-up, talking about prosciutto-wrapped melon, working in her Hamptons kitchen. This was 15 years ago. But really, what’s the difference between then and today:

Ina Garten, button-ups, and prosciutto-wrapped melon are all still goals.

If you two haven’t met, prosciutto is dry-cured pork leg, super salty and funky. Di Parma is the cream of the crop, from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. But wherever it’s from, prosciutto is delicious, and it loooves melon.

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You know melon. Ina went with Galia, a green-fleshed variety that looks a lot like honeydew. At the backyard BBQs of my childhood, cantaloupe was the favorite. Like Ina, we cut chunky wedges and bundled them in ham. It was an effortless app to accompany guac and chips, cheese and crackers, crudités and dip.

But what if we upgraded this from starter to side? What if we salad-fied it?

Most fruit salads are the same—melon, pineapple, strawberry, grapes—simple syrup as dressing, maybe one mint leaf on top. But they don’t always have to be like this.

Photo by Ty Mecham

My favorite approach hones in on one fruit and gets to know it well: How do you feel today, honeydew? What do you want out of your life?

If your honeydew is anything like mine, it wants prosciutto. Just, not for bundling. Instead of leaving the prosciutto as is, we’ll pop it in a hot oven, where it’ll fry in its own fat, turning into crisps to crackle on top, almost like breadcrumbs.

The rest is equally savory: fruity olive oil, wrinkly oil-cured olives, fresh mint, and the tiniest spoonful of Calabrian chilies. If you can’t find those, chili flakes work, too, or even cracked black pepper. I like the warmth and spunk spice brings here, reminding us that this isn’t a fruit salad, but a fruit salad.

We balled our melons because—well, look how cute they are! You could just as well cut them into chunks. I like to serve this as a side to grilled proteins, like chicken thighs, or even as a light lunch with warm, crusty bread alongside.

What's are some of your favorite ways to eat summer melon? Let us know in the comments!

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

1 Comment

Danuta G. July 13, 2018
Oooh! this looks delicious! Love the melon balls...perhaps a light sprinkling of mature Fontina and a glass of Nebbiolo on the side?!