This cantaloupe salad with lemon balm and lemon cucumber is delicious and very simple to make.
Lemon balm (Melissa officianalis) is an herb I am very fond of; I grow it in my garden and I often add it salads (I like it with greens as well as in fruit salads like this one). I also enjoy it in smoothies, and I have infused it into custard and chopped it into cookies, as well.
Lemon balm is in the mint family. It has a reputation for being invasive like mint, but I find it to be very easy to grow and not too troublesome in my sunny herb spiral. Lemon balm is known as a “nervine” (meaning it helps to soothe the nerves). It also helps promote good digestion, and has anti-bacterial activity. If you don’t have access to lemon balm, though, I would substitute mint or perhaps basil in the salad.
I have these cute “lemon cucumbers” growing in my garden. They are pale yellow and have a thin skin; they are a little sweeter than regular cucumbers. If you can’t find these, just substitute one medium-sized typical cucumber for the 3 lemon cukes.
I garnished the salad with shavings of ricotta salata cheese. I love the super saltiness of this Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk, but if you are vegan or just don’t want the cheese on your salad, feel free to leave it off. I would sprinkle a little Himalayan or sea salt on instead, though, as the salt does help to brighten the flavors. If you want to add cheese but can’t find ricotta salata, you can substitute another salty hard cheese such as feta.
Recipe for Lemony Cantaloupe Salad
- *flesh from 1/2 ripe cantaloupe sliced into thin bite-sized pieces
- *3 lemon cucumbers or 1 medium-sized cucumber, peeled if not organic, and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- *1 large handful of lemon balm stems removed and chopped chiffonade-style
- *2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- *1 teaspoon raw honey or pure maple syrup- optional
- *shavings of ricotta salata cheese or crumbled feta to garnish- optional
- 1. Mix cantaloupe through lemon balm in a medium bowl (if not using the sweetener, go ahead and mix in the lemon juice, too).
- 2. In a smaller bowl, mix the lemon juice with the sweetener and pour over the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
- 3. Place individual servings on smaller salad plates and garnish with the cheese.