A simple melon salad takes a refreshingly exotic turn when tossed in a salty, citrusy dressing infused with chilies and mint. I adapted this recipe from Andrea Reusing’s Cooking In the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes to take to a recent potluck buffet, and it fit in beautifully with the rest of the spread that included charcuterie, cheeses, salads, and various nibbles. It would also be a welcome switch from the predictable fruit salad at a backyard cookout. I used a combination of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, but use whatever combination you like.
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 4-5 limes)
1/2 cup Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc cham)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste
2 large fresh red Thai chilies, with seeds, finely minced (3 or 4 jalapenos or other hot chilies may be substituted)
3 or 4 small ripe melons (enough to make 8 to 10 cups melon balls orcubes)
1/2 cup mint leaves, torn into thin strips
1/3 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts
1. In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, minced chilies, and 1/4 cup water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cut each melon in half; remove seeds.
2. Scoop out flesh with melon baller to make about 8 cups melon balls. Or, cut melon into 1-inch cubes. Add to the bowl and toss with dressing. Marinate in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to several hours.
3. To serve, toss with mint and ladle into individual bowls or onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with peanuts.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.