What to CookCantaloupe

The Joy Kitchen's Roasted Cantaloupe

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: How to save bad cantaloupe (and other fruit disappointments).

Roasted Cantaloupe from Food52

Sometimes, despite your good training and instincts and most desperate intentions, you're going to get a disappointing cantaloupe (or nectarine, or flat of strawberries). Fruit has its ways of beguiling us -- of looking like a Platonic ideal, and tasting like vaguely tart paper.

The Joy Kitchen's Roasted Cantaloupe from Food52

With a cantaloupe, you can go to the greenmarket, and try the smell test, and the knock test, and look for a bleached splotch from a lengthy ripening on the ground. But sometimes, it will trick you. You'll bust it open and you'll get angry. 

More: But what about bad berries, you ask? Here are 10 ideas.

Roasted Cantaloupe from Food52

Not to mention the ways it confronts us as fruit salad filler year-round -- many don't know how good it can be, because it almost never is. It's pale, shelf-stable, inoffensive but completely unremarkable. In this hostile environment, tasting a truly ripe, sweet, local cantaloupe -- if and when it happens -- is a life-changing experience.

But with a simple trick, which I stumbled across on The Joy Kitchen -- run by John Becker and Megan Scott, the new generation of the Joy of Cooking family -- we can channel that fleeting goodness. 

John Becker and Megan Scott

Scott turned to roasting because she doesn't like cantaloupe, and it made a convert of her. "Sometimes the very thing you dislike will provoke creativity," she wrote.

So she cubed it, tossed it with a little vanilla sugar, and stuck it in a hot oven. (This is a reasonable thing to do with any fruit you're not on good terms with -- see plums, strawberries, apples, mango.)

Roasted Cantaloupe from Food52

The cubes collapse slightly, having lost some of their water weight. What's left is sweeter, more complex and jewel-like, with lightly singed edges.

Roasted Cantaloupe from Food52

So next time you find yourself resenting a cantaloupe -- cook it. You can use it in popsicles or soup, or put it on top of your yogurt, your granola, your buttery cakey desserts

Whatever you do with it, you can take pride in having outfoxed nature, and made bad cantaloupe good again.

Roasted Cantaloupe from Food52

The Joy Kitchen's Roasted Cantaloupe

Adapted slightly from The Joy Kitchen

1 cantaloupe
About 2 tablespoons sugar or vanilla sugar (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

The Joy Kitchen's Roasted Cantaloupe from Food52

Photos by James Ransom

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]

Tags: Fruit, Summer, Long Reads, Editors' Picks, Genius Recipes, Genius