Summertime – and as the divine Ella sang – the livin’ is easy. How easy? Pretty darn easy. In summer, Mother Nature – bless her heart – does all the hard work for you. It’s not like the dead of winter when you’re facing another cabbage, is it?
Take our friend the cantaloupe. Was there ever anything better? Perfectly ripe and dripping with sweet goodness (I blush!). You don’t really need to do much/anything with it, do you? It helps if you slice it, but after that you’re on easy street. I love the classic combination of melon and prosciutto – thin, wafer slices of prosciutto draped over a hefty wedge of melon.
Of course, never content to leave something totally unadorned, I drizzle a bit of chile oil on top.
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
½ cup Los Chileros Chile Pequin, Crushed
To make the chile oil, heat the oil in a saucepan until it is hot but not simmering. While the oil is warming, place the chile flakes in a clean glass jar (an old jam jar will do). When the oil is hot, remove it from the heat and pour into the jar with the chile flakes. The flakes will sizzle slightly. If the oil is too hot, pour in some room temperature oil to reduce the temperature.
If possible, make the chile oil the day before (or even earlier). This allows the oil to cool down and for it to take on more of the chile flavor. The oil will keep very happily in your refrigerator indefinitely as long as the chile flakes are completely covered in oil.
Purists may raise their hands in horror but too bad. It’s my melon and I’ll eat it any way I want. Plus, you’ve got to trust me on this – it tastes pretty darn good. You’ve got the sweetness of the melon, the salt of the prosciutto and the zing-a-ling-ling of the chile oil.
Life may get better than this but I doubt it.