You don't see a lot of cantaloupe recipes. The ones I've seen are for granitas or for slices wrapped in prosciutto. When I was flipping through Williams-Sonoma's Cooking From The Farmers' Market, I noticed several recipes for cantaloupe. I was instantly transported back to mornings (or afternoons...or after dinner, really) at my house growing up. Cantaloupe and watermelon were two of my dad's favorite things. I never grew up knowing about cottage cheese and cantaloupe. I grew up knowing about putting pepper on melon. My dad always did it - sometimes with a healthy dash of salt, as well. Making this recipe took me back to those times and, well, maybe my dad was onto something.
We're at peak season for cantaloupes - they're best in July and August - and the few I've tasted have been very impressive. Super sweet and perfect texture. I've added a little sprinkle of fresh ground pepper to the final dish, as well as a smattering of herbs that are from the patio garden. The strength of the star anise and the ginger is really complimented by the brightness of the herbs and the lemon. This is just a simple, refreshing and easy dessert that was spot-on during one of the hottest summer weeks I can remember - make the syrup in advance, slice your melon & store it in the fridge and assemble when you're ready.
Cantaloupe in Spiced Syrup - makes 4 servings
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 star anise
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and either cubed or sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs, tough stems removed - mint, regular or lemon basil, lemon verbena, lemon thyme, cinnamon basil would be great here
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste