Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prosciutto and Canary Melon with Baby Lettuce and Scallion Mint Yogurt Dressing

Italian Prosciutto e Melone with a modern mediterranean style presentation!
     I posted a standard Parma Prosciutto e Melone recipe several months ago.  For that recipe, I used the finest imported Italian Parma prosciutto and honeydew melon.  I mentioned in that recipe, that I prefer canary melon for making prosciutto e melone, but canary melon is not always available.
     Yesterday, I found a canary melon at a local market.  Exotic fruit is not easy to come by in Chicago.  Chicago people are kind of middle of the road as far as trying something new goes.  Exotic food and fruits do not catch on quickly in the midwest.  I noticed that I am usually one of the only people who frequents the exotic fruit section in a local Chicago grocery store.  Everybody else heads straight for the apples and oranges.
     Where I come from in Las Vegas and Florida, exotic foods are the norm!  Especially in Florida, where locally grown exotic tropical fruits and seafood are abundant.  Food items are delivered by air or freight from all points of the globe to Las Vegas.  Where there is a demand, exotic foods are delivered.  Las Vegas has the highest demand for quality exotic food of any city in the world, because visitors come from everywhere.  Las Vegas takes pride in accommodating the tastes of high rollers and casual tourists.
     Las Vegas is also a high tech food industry center.  A huge shrimp farm was just approved for the Las Vegas area.  Maine lobsters that are raised in Las Vegas are of the highest quality.  In fact, a very large supply of Las Vegas farm raised Maine lobster was recently shipped to the state of Maine, because the lobster count in that state was low.  If a lobster could talk, you may be surprised to hear the lobster say that it was from Las Vegas and not Maine!  Hard to believe, but true.  It would be funny to see a cook lose a poker game to a Las Vegas lobster card shark!
     Scallion Mint Yogurt Dressing:
     Place 1/4 cup of goat milk yogurt into a small bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of finely minced mint leaves.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of very thinly sliced green onion tops.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Add a few drops of water at a time, while stirring, till the dressing becomes a thin sauce consistency.
     Set the dressing aside.
     Canary Melon Balls:  
     Cut a canary melon in half lengthwise from top to bottom.
     Set one half of the melon aside for later in the recipe.
     Gently scrape the the seeds and pulp out with a spoon.
     Use a melon baller (parisienne scoop) tool to cut as many whole round canary melon balls as you can.
     Place the canary melon balls in a bowl and set them aside.
     (Snack on the remaining fruit that remains in the shell with a spoon.  Eating the fruit that remains in the shell is one of the perks of being a cook!)
     Prosciutto and Canary Melon:  
     It is better to place each piece of prosciutto wrapped canary melon directly on the plate, rather than to set the wrapped pieces on a temporary dish.  The prosciutto is paper thin and it is easily damaged.  By making this salad this way, there will be far less frustration.
     In fine Italian restaurants, the melon is always wrapped with prosciutto to order and it is never wrapped ahead of time.  Prosciutto e melone that is made ahead of time is easy to notice.  The prosciutto will discolor and the melon will become mushy where it makes contact with the meat. 
     For the prosciutto, I suggest an imported Italian certified Parma prosciutto or an imported Italian certified Volpi prosciutto.  American and Canadian prosciuttos are second rate products.
     Be patient when working with thin sliced prosciutto.  A good Italian delicatessen will always place paper or plastic wrap between each slice, so the slices do not stick together.  The sliced prosciutto will stick to itself and it is nearly impossible to separate the meat without tearing it to shreds.  Treat the prosciutto like it is some kind of sticky tape and do not stack the slices!
     Use a spoon to remove the seeds and pulp from the reserved half of the canary melon.
     Use a knife to remove the rind from the canary melon half.
     Cut the melon into thick long wedges.
     Wrap each wedge with a thin layer of prosciutto.
     Cut the prosciutto and melon wedges into cube shaped large bite size pieces.
     Place the prosciutto wrapped melon pieces on a plate, in a large 7" to 8" wide circle.
     Repeat these steps, till a ring of prosciutto wrapped melon pieces is created on the plate.  (Save any extra melon pieces for another recipe or snack.)
     Prosciutto and Canary Melon with Baby Lettuce and Scallion Mint Yogurt Dressing:
     Place a small mound of mixed baby lettuce on the plate inside the circle of prosciutto wrapped canary melon.
     Spoon some Scallion Mint Yogurt Dressing over the baby lettuce on the plate.
     Arrange the canary melon balls on top of the dressing and lettuce.
     Drape 2 whole slices of the prosciutto over the center of the canary melon balls.
     Garnish the prosciutto with long thin strips of green onion top.
     Delicious, modern and pretty!  All the flavors on this plate compliment each other.  Yum!  Ciao Baby  ...  Shawna

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