When you go to the farmers market this weekend, be sure to stock up on fresh tomatoes and melon in season. They’re great by themselves or tossed together in a fresh salad. That’s why this salad from celebrity chef David Rocco is so appealing.
“I love using sweet fruit in a savory salad,” he writes in his new cookbook, “Made in Italy” (Clarkson Potter Publishers, $35) “You’ll find this a lot in Sicily. There, people ‘get’ mixing these flavors. that may be a result of how incredible their fruit is. I’m going to give you the basics to match the picture, but don’t be afraid to make this salad your own. For instance, you don’t have to use arugula as a base. Sometimes I use only fruit, some finely chopped red onion for spice and heat, and some fresh mint or oregano.
“You can change the fruit. I’ve used melon here, but oranges or figs are also great. The thing that brings all the flavors together is the olive oil, so use the good stuff here.”
Insalata di Pomodori e Melone (Tomato Melon Salad)
2 or 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/2 cantaloupe, peeled and diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dried oregano, to taste (optional)
1 bunch arugula, torn
The key here is to mix your tomatoes, cucumber, melon and red onions in the vinegar, oil and spices and let that sit for 5 minutes. Make sure, though, that you don’t overdo it with the oregano or the red wine vinegar. These are really just slight complements to the fruit and the fantastic olive oil, and too much of either will overpower the dish.
On a serving plate, lay out your greens. I prefer using baby arugula because it has a nice pepperiness and makes a great base for the salad. Add the seasoned fruits and vegetables on top. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
From “Made from Italy” by David Rocco