Summer melon crostini

Yield: 4 appetizer sized portions

At this time of year, it’s tempting to find some new uses for the incredibly diverse array of melons currently on the market. From seedless watermelons and green-fleshed Galias to deep orange-fleshed Charentais and canteloupe varieties, there is something for everyone. Combining sweet with savory, this simple starter includes layers of creamy cheese and melon, topped with crisped shards of prosciutto slathered with a fresh basil and parsley pesto. Using three different kinds of melon makes for a colorful array on the hors d’oeuvre tray. You can prepare the individual parts earlier in the day, or if needed, the night before, and then assemble the crostini just before serving. Summer cooking is all about easy and this starter or light lunch dish certainly fills the bill. Other than sourcing some good-tasting melons, cheese and prosciutto, and crisping up the prosciutto, the only real work in the kitchen is making the fresh basil and parsley pesto to drizzle over the crostini. Here’s how.

For the pesto:

Yield: Approximately 1 c. (enough for a dozen crostini, three per person, with some left over to use as a simple dressing for a salad of thinly sliced zucchini and fresh ripe tomato, or over your favorite pasta garnished with toasted pine nuts and thin shards of Parmigiano Reggiano)

1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, stems removed, washed and gently dried
1/2 c. Italian parsley leaves, stems removed, washed and gently dried
1/2 c. (approximately) extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the basil leaves and parsley into a bowl. Pour boiling water over the leaves, stir once or twice and allow to stand for a couple of minutes, or until leaves seem slightly wilted. Drain well and then place the leaves into a bowl filled with ice water. This sets the color so that the resulting pesto will be bright green rather than muddy. Drain again and pat dry. Place the leaves into a blender or food processor. Add enough oil to make a flowing but not thin mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste and store in a covered container under ready to use. (This retains its fresh flavor and bright color for up to two days).

The other suggested ingredients required to assemble the bruschetta:

(Note: Feel free to use other salumi such as speck, coppa and jamon serrano, and your favorite unripened fresh cheeses here, as you wish.)

Good country baguette, cut into 12 half-inch thick slices
Extra virgin olive oil to brush on the bread before toasting, grilling or pan browning
4 thin slices of good quality prosciutto, crisped in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for about 5 minutes (Watch carefully and check to be sure that the prosciutto is not burning), broken into rough shards, enough to top twelve croutes
2 ounces feta cheese, sliced thinly in rectangles to fit the croutes of bread
2 ounces whole milk ricotta (ricotta di latte is especially delicious, if available)
The best melons you can find—I like to use Galia or Ogen, canteloupe or Charentais melon and a small seedless watermelon for a nice contrast of textures and flavors, peeled, (for the green and yellow melons, seeded), and then thinly sliced as you wish
Freshly ground black pepper (optional final touch), to taste

Brush the sliced bread with oil and brown it lightly on both sides by either toasting, baking on a sheet pan for about 8-10 minutes in a preheated 400 degree F. oven or briefly on a grill. Now place the cheese of your choice on the bread. Next comes the sliced or shaved melon, and finally, the cripsed prosciutto. Just before serving, drizzle on a bit of the basil and parsley pesto. Grind some fresh black pepper over all if you wish and then serve immediately.

Leave a Reply

  1. (required)
  2. (required)

Security Code: