“It’s a nice day for a duck.”
Murmured through grumpily downturned lips, this phrase evokes images of human suffering on rainy days best reserved for supposedly water-loving ducks. But what kind of weather do ducks actually like?
Last weekend, on a perfect spring day, the kind, quite frankly, I imagine a duck, paddling, goslings in tow, through the pond, actually enjoying, my friend Nancy said, this must be the perfect weather for a cantaloupe.
I guess I imagine ducks and cantaloupe enjoying the same weather. However, as sweet juice ran down our chins, I had to admit that this spring, so inhospitable to asparagus and strawberries, somehow magically produced the sugary cantaloupe we were eating.
Farmer Tim had delivered to the Market that day. Given, it was too early for truly local melons, but these had only traveled north from a few states south. And here they were, sweet perfection.
This spring must then, we agreed, be the ideal growing conditions for cantaloupe. Satisfied and edified* we each sunk our teeth into another slice.
*Melons, it turns out, generally prefer warm sunny days, good drainage and consistent, but not heavy, moisture. None of which this spring has provided. We’ll simply take their existence as a blessing and a gift.
Baby Arugula and Cantaloupe Salad
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/3 cup Peach or white balsamic vinegar*
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 2/3 cup olive oil – the good stuff!*
- 1/2 pound baby arugula
- 1/2 cantaloupe, seeded and peeled
- 1 tbs chopped tarragon
*If you’re shopping in DC or online, hit up Sapore for their fresh-tasting Peach vinegar and lightly-grassy, Greek Koroneiko olive oil. It’s a perfect pairing for this salad.
- Make dressing: Whisk together shallot, vinegar and mustard. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper.
- While whisking, drizzle oil, in a thin stream, into vinegar mixture, forming a thick, creamy emulsion.
- Toss together cantaloupe and tarragon in a medium bowl. Place arugula in a separate, large bowl.
- Dip a couple of arugula leaves into the dressing and season to taste. If the arugula is strongly peppery or bitter, you may want more oil. Make sure it’s salty enough to bring out the sugars in the cantaloupe.
- Dress the arugula lightly. It should just glisten with dressing, not be weighed down by it. Dress the cantaloupe separately in the other bowl.
- Serve the arugula topped with cantaloupe.