You needn’t cure your own salmon for this salad recipe, nor do you have to grow your melon – though the former certainly helps.
A new salad recipe?
I don’t really like those salad recipes where they put together a couple of obvious ingredients with the third maybe slightly an unusual combination – and try to impress.
Like a perfectly common tomato and cucumber Greek-ish salad – but pomegranate seeds are thrown on top, so it’s a new recipe. It’s not, it’s a Greek salad with random pomegranate seeds. Have you ever seen a Greek throw pomegranate into their salad? No, they have different applications for the purple jewels.
Classic salads are the best
Classic salad combinations have been tried and tested and the reason they are classic is precisely because they are good combinations. I don’t deny there are new, fantastic discoveries, like Ottolenghi putting cinnamon into his salad dressing, but otherwise don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Can you improve on melon-ham combo?
Melon is a perfect pairing with Parma ham, like smoked salmon is with cream cheese. But a couple of years ago I had this starter in a great little Provençal bistrot and I fell in love. Smoked fish – in the original it was local trout, house-smoked – was layered with deliciously cold and immaculately ripe melon slices.
There was a sprinkling of herbs, there was tart and sweet dressing and the whole dish was delightful. I didn’t ask for a recipe, fool me, but thanks to that omission I was able to create my own take on it here, without being accused of plagiarising theirs.
Ripe, seasonal and good quality
I feel obliged to add a caveat here: if you put together a barely ripe supermarket melon with some bog-standard smoked salmon slices, you’ll be disappointed.
I can’t ever talk enough of the quality of the local, seasonal and artisanal and nowhere does it come to the fore more than in this concoction. Visit your farmers market and grope all the melons until you find a ripe fruit; or buy the most reduced in price supermarket one – it is bound to be the closest to ripe.
Cure your own salmon
As for salmon, the solution is at hand too: cure your own. It is easy, it is cost effective and the taste quality is brilliant. You might never go back to the few miserly slices of orange fish flesh on a pointless cardboard tray that cost a fiver.