The Feast of Saint Peter and Paul
Many people have experienced eating prosciutto with ripe summer cantaloupe. It’s an Italian flavor combination made in heaven. Even when prosciutto is scarce, Italians, even my father and grandfather, would just sprinkle a bit of salt on cantaloupe knowing it would bring out the fruits’ sweetness.
One of the most ancient feasts observed by Christians is the Feast of San Pietro e Paolo (Saints Peter and Paul) on June 28th and 29th, honoring the martyrdom of these two influential Apostles. Celebrations vary from region to region, but the town ofViadanainLombardyholds a very special sagra of prosciutto, cantaloupe, and their slightly sweet and fizzy Lambrusco wine, highlighting some of the areas most prized food products. The dense, orange fleshed melon got its name form Cantalupo in the Savine region, where it was grown in the papal gardens. The beautiful fruit then spread to other areas ofItaly, traveling from one papal property to another. Inside Viadana’s 17th century church hangs a painting of the town patron surrounded by cantaloupes.
In honor of this very special feast, I’ve turned toLombardyfor inspiration and created a summer salad using cantaloupe, prosciutto, and Lambrusco, all three of the fine products this region celebrates for its festival.
Cantaloupe Salad with Prosciutto, Mozzarella, and Lambrusco Vinaigrette
(Serves four as a first course or as a lunch dish)
For the vinaigrette:
¼ cup Lambrusco wine
1 tablespoon Spanish sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small ripe cantaloupe, scooped out with a melon baller (about 2 cups)
1 pint grape tomatoes
About a dozen bocconicini mozzarella
¼ lb. prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 large bunch of frisee, ripped into pieces
1 shallot, thinly sliced
A handful of small basil leaves, left whole
To make the vinaigrette, pour the Lambrusco into a small saucepot and boil it over high heat until you have about a tablespoon (you can use another semi-sweet wine instead if you like). Let this cool for a few minutes. Now whisk in the sherry vinegar and the olive oil and season it with salt and black pepper.
Place all the ingredients for the salad in a large salad bowl. Pour on the viniagrette and toss gently. Serve right away.
(Dining with the Saints is a monthly column written by Erica De Mane, cookbook writer and teacher. You can find her food blog at www.ericademane.com)