Summer Swoon: Honeydew, Fennel, and Caper Berry Salad

By: Athena Calderone, Cook Beautiful
Summer Swoon: Honeydew, Fennel, and Caper Berry Salad

Melons are amazingly sweet and refreshing in high summer, so why reserve them for snacks? I used one of my favorite tricks to lend the fruit some savory glory: pickling. It does such sublime things to ingredients like honeydew. And the cooling fennel here helps beat the serrano’s heat while offering a fresh crunch. The final surprise in this salad: is caper berries, which add a uniquely briny touch. To ensure your melon is ripe, follow your nose: The fruit should smell sweet and slightly floral. Enjoy!

Salad Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients for the salad:

  • ½ ripe honeydew melon, seeds removed
  • One small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced on a mandoline, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 6 to 8 caper berries, halved lengthwise
  • One Serrano chile, thinly sliced into rounds

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • ¼ cup (25 grams) of Pickled Shallots
  • Plus two tablespoons of pickling liquid
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • One tablespoon of chopped fresh mint, plus a handful of leaves for garnish
  • Flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper for serving

Method of Preparation:

Make the salad:

  1. Cut the honeydew into ½-inch-thick (12-mm-thick) half-moons and remove the peel.
  2. Place the melon on a serving platter or in a shallow serving bowl.
  3. Add the sliced fennel, caper berries, and chile.
  4. Scatter the pickled shallots over the salad.

Make the dressing:

  1. Whisk the pickling liquid with the oil.
  2. Stir in the chopped mint. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing until it’s evenly coated.
  3. Garnish with the reserved mint leaves and fennel fronds.
  4. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Swoon tip:

The pale pastel palette of this dish finds its counterpoint in dark, ragged chunks of freshly cracked pepper. To get them, steer clear of your pepper grinder. Instead, gently crush the peppercorns with the underside of a pan, repeating the process until you get a rough, grainy consistency.

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