A melon salad is not a typical opening to a meal in Italy. I certainly didn’t expect it when I stayed at Le Frise, a guest farm in the mountains of northern Lombardy. To reach Le Frise, I had to drive up a dirt cow path cut into a nearly vertical mountainside. Gualberto Martini and his wife Emma make goat cheeses in this setting, prepare meals on the weekends for diners, and take in guests. Emma dresses chunks of melon with black pepper, vinegar and olive oil. She presents the melon on a bed of pale green curly endive and snips dark green chives over the salad at the last moment. Few things taste better with fresh goat cheese.
Wine Suggestion: A white Tocai Friulano, perhaps by Schiopetto
Half of a 2 1/2- to 3-pound ripe cantaloupe, seeds removed
Several pale green leaves from the center of a head of curly endive
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives or scallion tops
2 thin slices soppressata, cut into thin strips (optional)
1. With a melon baller, scoop out 1-inch balls from the melon and turn into a medium bowl. Line an 8-inch white serving plate with the greens.
2. Sprinkle the melon with salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss with the oil, then the vinegar. Spoon onto greens, scatter the chives and optional salami over the melon, and serve.
From The Italian Country Table, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
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