In this classic Italian appetizer, the salty savoriness of Proscuitto di Parma is the perfect compliment to super sweet, ripe melon. Proscuitto e melone can be simply proscuitto served alongside or on top of melon slices or as we present it in this recipe - wrapped around melon balls.
Only two ingredients are needed for this recipe. That makes it real easy, but also means that the quality of ingredients is paramount. The proscuitto should be selected based on your personal tastes. My preference is for a salty (but not overwhelmingly so) proscuitto from the shoulder that is not so dry that it crumbles when chewed. I also like the proscuitto to have a bit of chew, but cut so thinly that it almost feels like it should dissolve in my mouth. How do you find the right proscuitto? If your deli counter sells different varieties, ask to taste them.
For the melon, honeydew and muskmelon (sold as cantaloupes) are the most common in the U.S. You'll want an extremely ripe melon for this dish. Melons don't get sweeter off the vine (although their aroma may continue to develop), so make sure you select a good one at the market. The skin of the melon should be firm and free of bruising or soft spots. The skin of honeydews will also have changed from greenish to light yellow. The stem end should not be green on any melon, and the end of the melon opposite of the stem should have a nice strong aroma, but not one that smells odd or fermenting (this usually means the melon is overripe).
You'll need about 12 ounces of thinly sliced proscuitto for half a medium sized melon. I generally only use half a melon for this recipe and use the other half for eating as is. [IMG]
Wash the melon with soap and water. The external surface of the melon can carry microbes that cause food poisoning, so it's best to wash it before cutting through it (especially since we're eating this raw). A muskmelon (American cantaloupe) has a bumpy netted surface that should be scrubbed.
Cut the melon from pole to pole. A safe way to do this is to cut a thin slice off the stem end and stand the melon up on the cut side. Slice the melon in half. Remove the collected juice, seeds and webbing. Cut the melon into bite sized pieces either by slicing into wedges and then into chunks or using a melon baller. [IMG]
Cut the proscuitto slices into strips that are large enough to wrap around the melon pieces or balls. I found that a 1-in. by 4-in. strip was the perfect size for my melon balls. Wrap the proscuitto slice around the melon piece and make sure that the ends of the proscuitto slice overlap a little. Thrust a toothpick through the overlap and out the other side to secure the proscuitto to the melon. [IMG]
Serve immediately or chill thoroughly before serving. Chilled proscuitto e melone is preferred by many because there is not only opposing sweetness and saltiness but also a perceived temperature difference between the ice cold melon and the seemingly warmer proscuitto. [IMG]
Prosciutto works well with many fruits. I have often had it with rockmelon which is common here in Australia. My favourite would have to be with peaches though. The flavour of peaches go really well with prosciutto.
Last edited by MisterEd on Thu Sep 21, 2006 12:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
As an Italian living in Denmark i can assure you that seeing this really made me feel nostalgic
Just a couplo of notes, if you want to keep the italian style:
1) Melons in Italy are orange and tante extremely more sweet than the green one i can find in Denmark. I don't know how it works in the States but i think this is pretty important.
2) Prosiutto di Parma and prosciutto di San Daniele (the two best qualities you can get) are famous for being sweet. Wikipedia tells me that in the States sugar is involved in the production of prosiutto which probably means that you have even sweeter prosciutto over there. Prosciutto di Parma does not use sugar at all and it fits melon perfectly.
Well... that was it! Take a look at my blog if you're into traditional italian food!
Joined: 27 Aug 2006 Posts: 2 Location: US southwest
Posted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 3:25 pm Post subject: Other salty/sweet melon combinations
This is a wonderful example of the genius Italy has for simple yet fabulous food.
Here's another surprising pairing for melon that I ran across this fall: watermelon, cracked black peper, and chevre.
The creamy, slightly salty cheese really brings out the sweetness of the melon, and gives a nice texture balance. I think you can use any mild soft white cheese: feta should work too.
The cracked pepper gives it a nice "zing".
You can add tomatoes, greens and a drizzel of olive oil to the party. Fresh basil would add to the pepper notes. I am not a big salad fan, but I had seconds of this one! _________________ I can't always afford a plane ticket, but I can at least try a taste of the culture.
Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 1:28 am Post subject: fruit and salt
You know what else is really good, along the same lines as the prosciutto melone? Watermelon, ricotta salata and mint leaves. I think I saw something like this in Martha Stewart, tried it, and loved it.