Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fun Fruits: Sprite Melons

I absolutely adore supermarkets.  When permissible, I will spend extensive time there, checking out new products and items, especially in the produce department.  I make it a point to read the information posted on the vegetables and fruits that are  unfamiliar to me.  Additionally, when my budget allows,  I purchase the item and do my own flavor profile to lock into my mental Rolodex. My first job was in a supermarket and became my beginning registry for the copious amounts of fruits and vegetables that I can recite to this day.  On that note, I visited a Kroger in the SML area the other day and became familiar with yet another member of the melon family, The Sprite Melon.  This fruit has origins in Japan and has been successfully cultivated in our own backyard of North Carolina since the early 1990's .  When ripe, this fruit  is about the size of a grapefruit. The flesh of this melon is ivory to cream and can become a pale yellow with striations and mottling on the outside when fully ready to consume.  The striations are caused by the sugars within the melon that are approximately 18% percent higher than that of other melons.  The Sprite Melon has 150% of the daily allowance of Vitamin C per serving and no calories from fats.    The taste is said to resemble a cross between a honeydew and a watermelon, and some suggest a hint of pear.  The flesh is quite firm with an almost crisp, crunchy bite like that of an apple.  The particular fruits I tried, were very reminiscent of just that.  The sweetness was not as pronounced, but it also lacked the tell-tale mottling on the outside.  This fruit is generally served as a dessert and it's size makes for convenient servings for individuals.  My family really enjoyed the Sprite Melon, especially Genesis my 6 year old.  I certainly did and found it paired exceptionally well with Cambozolo cheese, with which I used  to create the following recipe.  The freshness of this salad is impeccable, showcasing this melon and other fabulous vegetables with delicate as well as bold flavor profiles and a citrusy vinaigrette!   If you don't get a chance to try the recipe, please don't miss the opportunity to try this melon as is, it will lift your spirits in a Spritely fashion!
Asparagus and Sprite Melon Salad w/Cambozolo and Pancetta
1 lb. petite asparagus, blanched and chopped on bias
2 sprite melons, halved and de-seeded, hollowed out slightly, the bottom shaved enough to sit flat
2 oz. Pancetta, small dice
1 tbsp. shallot, finely chopped
2  oz. Cambozolo cheese
zest of 1 lemon
For Vinaigrette:
juice of 1 large lemon, about 2 tbsp.
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. Agave Nectar
SPST
In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, saute Pancetta until golden, about 4 minutes, and add shallot.  SPST.  Saute  for 1 more minute. Turn off heat .
In a medium bowl, add asparagus, zest of lemon, about 1/2 c.  Sprite Melon flesh chopped (from the hulled  out portion), and vinaigrette, that has been combined in another small bowl.  Toss until well coated. SPST.  Toss with Pancetta and shallot mixture.  
Spoon into Sprite Melon bowls.  Divide cheese equally atop the two salads.  
Serves 4.  Serve Immediately.  
This salad is presented in two bowls or 1 melon because that is all I had available after the taste testing and subsequent consumption of additional 'bowls'.  For presentation, serve in 4 melon bowls that have been de-seeded, but   NOT HOLOWED out as the melon will create an appealing border around the asparagus salad and the fruit may be scooped out afterwards with a spoon by the person eating.   Use the fruit of a 5th additional melon to provide the portion for the recipe.
This makes for a gorgeous first course salad in 4 bowls or 2 main course salads if you follow the recipe above.





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