Making Melons Work for You

Napkin on talbe, melon salad CBS/The Early Show

Not sure what to do when you see a melon in the grocery store?

Don't worry: Dede Wilson, contributing editor of Bon Appetit magazine has you covered. She shared some melon knowledge on "The Early Show" Wednesday, telling how to buy melons and how to use them in a variety of summer dishes.

Melons are the featured ingredient of this month's "At the Market" section of Bon Appetit.

MELONS:

Cantaloupe:

What:
A spherical melon with a netted rind and sweet, juicy orange flesh. Technically the proper name for this fruit is the muskmelon, but it is much more commonly known as the cantaloupe.
Buying & Storing: Choose heavy, fragrant fruit with little green tinge. If you hear sloshing when you shake the melon, pick a different one. Store on the counter for up to four days (it will soften but won't sweeten). Cut up, stored airtight, and chilled, cantaloupe will keep for two to three days.
Health & Nutrition: One cup of cantaloupe provides and entire day's worth of vitamins A and C. Eating it regularly may boost eye health and strengthen the immune system.

Honeydew:
What: Also known as winter melon, this fruit is bigger than cantaloupe, with smooth, cream colored skin and light-green or orange flesh.
Buying & Storing: Fragrance doesn't indicate quality. The fruit should feel heavy, with a rind that looks creamy and feels both velvety and sticky. The stem end should give slightly when pressed, but the melon shouldn't slosh when shaken. Store as you would cantaloupe.
Health & Nutrition: Honeydew is also a good source of vitamin C and contains a significant amount of potassium, which helps support cardiovascular health.

Charentais:
What: A small, spherical melon with a greenish gray, ribbed rind and deep-orange flesh. The flavor is both spicy and slightly floral.
Buying & Storing: Choose fragrant fruits that feel heavy for their size. As with other melons, avoid those with the stem still attached (a sign of immaturity) or those that slosh when shaken (a sign that the melon is apt to ferment). Store charentais just as you would cantaloupe.
Health & Nutrition: Like cantaloupe, charentais melon is rich in vitamins A and C. Eating it may help promote digestive health.

RECIPES:

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Honeydew Salsa

A simple grilled chicken breasts becomes dinner-party special with this salsa's sweet-spicy balance. You can also use cantaloupe or Charentais melon in this recipe.

4 servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/3 cups finely diced peeled seeded honeydew or other melon
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro plus 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded Serrano chile
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
4 boneless chicken breast halves with skin

METHOD:
Combine diced melon, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, finely diced red onion, lime juice, olive oil, grated lime peel, and chopped Serrano chile in medium bowl. Toss to blend flavors. Season melon salsa to taste with salt and pepper.

Spray grill with nonstick vegetable oil spray; prepare barbecue (medium heat). Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Grill chicken breasts until skin is crisp and brown and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Slice chicken breasts and arrange on plates. Top with melon salsa and cilantro leaves and serve.

Sliced Melon with Serrano Ham, Marcona Almonds, and Basil Oil
Here's a terrific new version of the classic melon-and-prosciutto pairing. For added color, use a mix of different melons. You can use honeydew, cantaloupe, or Charentais melon in this recipe.

4 servings

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium cantaloupe or honeydew melon or 2 small Charentais melons, halved, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced
1/2 pound thinly sliced Serrano ham or prosciutto
1/4 cup Marcona almonds,* coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

*Tender Spanish almonds that are usually sold roasted and salted; available at specialty foods stores and natural foods stores and from tienda.com.

METHOD:
Blanch basil leaves in small saucepan of boiling water until just wilted, about 10 seconds. Transfer blanched basil leaves to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain; using hands, squeeze out excess water. Puree basil leaves, 1/2 cup oil, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in blender until smooth. Set aside.

Divide melon among 4 large plates. Drizzle with basil oil. Arrange ham over melon. Sprinkle almonds and parsley over. Lightly drizzle additional extra-virgin olive oil over. Serve immediately.

For recipes for Cantaloupe and Celery Salad, and Fresh Fruit Salad with Honey, Mint and Lime, go to Page 2.
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