- Cantaloupe is named after Cantalup, the Italian village where the melon was first cultivated.
- Cantaloupe is a member of the same family as cucumber, squash, pumpkin, and gourd.
- The melon’s peak season is June through August.
Cantaloupe and Prosciutto
There are some things in life that are just meant to be together: peanut butter and jelly, cookies and cream, and yes, melon and prosciutto. Who would've thought that fruit and meat would go so well together, but it does. Sweet juicy cantaloupe and salty cured prosciutto bring out the sweet and salty best in one another.
When Chris first told me about Melon and Prosciutto Risotto, my eyes widened in disbelief that I had not thought of this brilliant idea sooner. It made perfect sense. Take the classic combo of melon and prosciutto, and reinvent it via a creamy divine risotto.
Mama mia, the result was just beautiful. The risotto starts out like a risotto typically does -- by softening an onion in some butter and oil, toasting off the Arborio rice, and then adding a generous splash of white wine before simmering broth is added bit by bit until the risotto is creamy and each kernel has a nice toothsome chew to it.
Now here is where the magic comes in. To the risotto, we now add cubes of ripe cantaloupe, ribbons of paper-thin prosciutto, and a shower of parmigiano. The cantaloupe is the real surprise here. This is the first time I've ever tasted it cooked, and the temperature confusion makes you pause for a second. The freshness of the melon comes through though. It really lightens up this comfort meal and makes it fit for spring -- which is not to say that it is any less luxurious. It is still, after all, a lush risotto trimmed with melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto, and garnished with bits of crispy prosciutto. That pork on pork action is celebration enough. The beauty, however, is in the balance.
The website The World’s Healthiest Foods (whfoods.org) gives what we call cantaloupes an A+, due largely to the staggering amounts of vitamins A and C they contain. Just 1 cup of the sweet orange flesh offers more than 100 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A and just under 100 percent for vitamin C – with only 56 calories.
Vitamin A has been proven to be especially important for eye health, contributing to a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. And a study at Kansas State University found that vitamin A can help to offset the deleterious effects of second-hand smoke and to ward off emphysema.
Vitamin C, of course, is a powerful antioxidant. And when you combine it with the beta-carotene that naturally contributes to the cantaloupe’s vibrant orange color, you have pretty much covered many of your bases for reducing the risks of cancer and heart disease. An assortment of B-vitamins and minerals rounds out the cantaloupe’s nutritional profile, making it a premier choice for your daily fruit allotment.
By Neil Zevnik
betternutrition July 2012