Cantaloupe salad is a wonderful blend of sweet summer flavors and the more savory ones that typify autumn. This recipe came into our lives last weekend when good friends made it for a Labor Day cookout. It was a wonderful serendipity, a perfect dish for the brief season when summer fades to autumn.
Because cantaloupe doesn’t stay nice-looking for long, it’s best to make this as close to eating time as possible, but the leftovers still taste great even if they aren’t as pretty. For a variation, you might add a little feta cheese, but in that case reduce the number of olives as you don’t want to overwhelm the sweetness of the cantaloupe with salt.
Savory Cantaloupe Salad with Figs, Basil and Olives
1 cantaloupe cubed
1 lb figs (about a dozen) sliced
a handful kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
2 tablespoons basil diced plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
fresh ground pepper
Gently fold the cantaloupe, figs, olives, and basil together in a generous bowl. In a small jar or bowl, whisk the vinegar into the olive oil until emulsified and add the cayenne. Carefully dress the salad and plate. Garnish with black pepper and basil leaves.