I love to cook and play around with ingredients without straying from my whole food POV. What keeps me going? Despite the millions of cookbooks and billions of blog posts revolving around food, I continue to challenge myself in concocting dishes that quite possibly no one else has done (in my way, with my ingredients, with my passion).
Cantaloupe soup – done. Butternut squash – done too many times. Here comes crazy me, thinking that creating a soup featuring these two ingredients together using fennel as the binder will actually taste good. Sometimes I surprise myself. Sometimes I’m just lucky but pretend I know exactly what I’m doing. This dish? Check and check.
This soup represents where my head is, food-wise. Spring is right around the corner (literally, in two days), but it’s still cold, but I want to sit on the back porch and enjoy a cold fruit smoothie, but I also don’t mind snuggling up on the couch with a warm bowl of soup while watching Top Chef, but then I see a commercial of Hawaii and want summer to be here immediately, etc. #questionablebipolar
Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Halve, brush butternut squash with olive oil, salt + pepper and roast until squash is fork tender.
Meanwhile, finely chop up the red onion.
Use a mandoline slicer on the fennel bulb (reserve the stems for another dish).
Drizzle oil into a stock pot and add the chopped onions. Place on the stove and turn the heat on low. Allow the onions to slowly start sweating through.
Once the onions become translucent, add the sliced fennel. Season with salt + pepper and sauté with the onions, still over a low heat.
While those vegetables are going, halve the cantaloupe, remove the seeds, and scoop out the flesh. Chop up into smaller cubes and add to the pot. Mix in with the onions and fennel.
Allow the cantaloupe to sauté for a bit until the squash is done.
When the squash has roasted, remove from the oven. Carefully separate the flesh from outer skin and add to the pot. Mix all ingredients together.
Pour in the vegetable broth, add the spices, and season again with salt + pepper.
Raise the heat to medium low, cover the pot, and let the flavors marry together.
After about 10 minutes, turn the heat off and either use an immersion blender to purée the soup OR use a blender (or food processor). Blend until silky smooth (unless you prefer it not to be – your choice).
Taste again and do a final seasoning. Serve with the arugula pesto oil.
Mmm raw salads are perfect for hot, humid summer nights pushing 90+F temps. I posted another savory cantaloupe salad the other day but yearned to do something more with the abundance of this succulent, sweet fruit. So this time around I paired the cantaloupe with some jicama and a yummy pistachio vinaigrette.
One of my biggest goals, aside from sticking to the whole foods credo, is composing dishes that I have never tasted before. This is an example of that and I was so pleasantly surprised by the outcome! This is one of those #lickthedishclean meals.
Here’s a play-by-play. Cantaloupe is juicy and incredibly sweet. Jicama is starchy with sweet undertones, but needs the juice from the cantaloupe to bring out its flavor. The two therefore go hand in hand. The pistachio vinaigrette adds a pop of citrus, texture, and acts as a great bind for the jicama. The capers tie the dish together with hints of salt.
Capers (1 tbsp)
Raw Pistachios (Handful)
Honey (2 tbsp)
White Balsamic Vinegar (2 tsp)
Water (2 tbsp)
Salt + Pepper
Remove the skin off of the jicama, cut in half or quarters (up to you!), and use a mandoline slicer to create thin slices.
Place the jicama slices in a bowl.
Place in a blender the raw pistachios, honey, lime, white balsamic, water, salt + pepper and purée until smooth. The pistachios won’t and don’t need to grind down smoothly; I like the crunch that results from the bits being left.
Pour the pistachio vinaigrette over the jicama and gently toss to coat the slices.
Add the capers to the jicama, do another toss, and allow to sit for a good 20 minutes. This will allow the starches in the jicama to break down and soak in the flavors of the vinaigrette.
Meanwhile, slice up the cantaloupe.
Plating – get creative! I started out by creating a gallette out of the jicama slices and topped with cantaloupe.
Cantaloupe and… what?? Yes, cantaloupe can go beyond its reputation as a bowl of fruit fixings. Before eliminating meat from my diet, one of my favorite appetizers was cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto. So simple and the perfect blend of sweet and savory. Good news – non-meat eaters can revel in the beauty of cantaloupe’s versatility too!
In this dish, I’ve paired cantaloupe with tomatoes (while yes, still a fruit, not as alarmingly sweet) and my secret ingredient – sesame seeds. A little salt + pepper to finish off and before you know it, you have the perfect little refreshing bite to satiate your appetizer-longing dinner mates.
We eat with our eyes too, you know, so the pretty pops of color are just another reason to love this summery salad!
Cherry Tomato (12 oz)
Black Sesame Seeds (1 tbsp)
Miso (2 tbsp)
Mirin (2 tbsp)
Honey (1 tbsp)
Salt + Pepper
Cut the cantaloupe in half, remove the seeds, and scoop out melon balls. Place the melon balls into a salad bowl.
Quarter the cherry tomatoes and add to the cantaloupe.
Finely chop up the scallion and add to the cantaloupe and cherry tomatoes. Toss together.
Toss in the black sesame seeds and season with salt + pepper.
Pour the mirin into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.
Add to the mirin the miso and honey. Whisk together until combined. Pour into the salad bowl and mix in with the cantaloupe and tomatoes.