It's June, and signs of our infamous summer heat wave are creeping up just as fast as our thermometer. Summer starts much earlier here and so does the abundant harvest of our fruits and melons. With all this great weather to enjoy, sometimes the last place we want to be is in a hot kitchen with steaming pots and pans.
This salad will get you out of the kitchen in 20 minutes or less and uses those wonderful summer melons and fruits. It makes a beautiful presentation. No one will ever guess how easy it was to prepare. With its colorful layers, this salad makes a perfect centerpiece on a buffet table. It's also great to bring to a backyard barbecue. The variety of fruit, cheese and dressing will please everyone. Children love this salad as much as adults do.
This salad looks great in a trifle dish, but if you don't have one of those, use a large clear glass bowl. You want people to be able to see all the layers of colors.
Summer Melon Salad
(8 to 10 servings)
- 3 cups peeled and chopped fresh peaches
- 8 ounces of bocconicini (Italian mini mozzarella cheese balls). If you can't find these, just chop fresh mozzarella into bite-sized pieces.
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped or torn
- 3/4 cup lemon-poppy seed dressing (see recipe below)
- 4 cups seeded and chopped watermelon
- 4 cups chopped honeydew melon
- 3 cups sliced strawberries
- 2 cups seedles grapes, green, red or black or a combination, cut in half
- Garnish with fresh mint leaves and any berries you like (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- Toss peaches, mozzarella and basil with 1/4 cup of the dressing.
- In your glass container layer add, in this order, watermelon, peaches, cheese, basil mixture, honeydews, strawberries and grapes. You can serve immediately or chill for up to 8 hours.
- Just before serving, drizzle remaining dressing over your salad and garnish with mint and any additional berries.
Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing
In a blender or food processor, process 2/3 cup canola oil, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds, 2 teaspoons finely chopped onions, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt until smooth. Refrigerate and serve at room temperature. Keeps up to a week refrigerated.
Chef's Tip: You might want to double the dressing recipe. Your can keep some for other salads or use as a fruit and veggie dip.
In Dunedin, your best bets for farm fresh fruit are:
- on Bayshore Boulevard.
- The Dunedin every Saturday in Pioneer Park.
- The Farmers Market at North Pinellas Historical Museum every Sunday (at the corner of Curlew and Belcher roads).
- (must be ordered in advance).
Also, fruits on special at the grocery store (good through June 14):
- Peaches, $1.29 per pound;
- Strawberries, two, one-pound containers for $5 (or $2.50 each);
- Red seedless grapes, $1.99 per pound.
- Red seedless sliced watermelon, 49 cents per pound;
- Southern blueberries, $1.99;
- Red raspberries, two for $5;
- Southern-grown Athena cantalopes, two for $5.
- Georgia peaches, 99 cents a pound;
- Mini seedless watermelon, $2.99 each;
- Blueberries, $2.99 per pint.