Melon, Summer Berry and Ricotta Salad

This bright, fresh salad is a great summertime dish, with an intriguing blend of sweet and savory flavors. Ricotta cheese and fresh herbs transform this dish into something more than your typical fruit salad. Try it on its own as a light lunch, or serve it as a side dish with your favorite grilled meats or fish.

TOTAL TIME:35 min.

SERVINGS:6

Ingredients

  • ÂĽ cup water
  • ÂĽ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup cantaloupe, cut into balls or ½” cubes
  • 1 cup honeydew, cut into balls or ½” cubes
  • 1 cup watermelon, cut into balls or ½” cubes
  • ½ small red onion, sliced very thinly
  • 3-4 Tbsp. good, fruity tasting olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp. mellow white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 2 cups mixed raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, halved strawberries or other berries, to taste
  • 1½ cups ricotta, well-drained
  • ÂĽ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ÂĽ tsp. ground cumin
  • ÂĽ cup chopped chives or finely minced green onion

Directions

  1. Combine the water, wine and sugar in a small saucepan and bring them to a boil. Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved, then reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture is syrupy and reduced in volume by â…“.

  2. Stir in the lemon zest and thyme leaves and simmer one minute longer, then remove the flavored syrup from the heat and set it aside to cool to room temperature.

  3. Combine the melon balls and red onion in a shallow serving bowl. Whisk together the cooled syrup, oil and wine vinegar, and drizzle this mixture over the fruit. Toss until the melons are well-mixed and liberally coated with the syrup, then add all but ½ cup of the berries. Mix again, this time gently folding in the fruit to avoid bruising or crushing the berries.

  4. Combine the ricotta, salt, pepper, cumin and half the chives in a small mixing bowl. Mix together well, then gather the ricotta together in a ball and carefully roll it from the mixing bowl to the middle of your salad bowl. Use a flexible spatula to shape it into a gentle mound in the middle of the fruit. Scatter the remaining chives over the ricotta, and then arrange the remaining berries around it.

  5. Serve chilled.

  6. TIP:

    Other summer herbs such as dill, basil and tarragon also play nicely with the fresh flavors of this salad. Add them to the ricotta mixture, or simply chop them and scatter them over the fruit.