This is a bit of a spin on a Bon Appetit recipe from the latest issue. Their recipe was for pork cutlets with a cantaloupe salad. The pork became chicken, the julienned salad became shaved ribbons of cantaloupe, the sliced pepper became sambal oelek… red onion instead of green… You know… just how I always follow a recipe.

I love recipes. I read cook books like other people read novels. I’ve just never been convinced they are sacrosanct in a non-commercial setting. I get that in a restaurant setting things need to be consistent. I remember a hundred years ago when I worked at The Red Chimney in San Francisco, the owner, Ed Taylor, was in the kitchen every night at 5 to 5 tasting the Bearnaise Sauce – and if it wasn’t exact, it was thrown out and redone until it was. When I worked in health care, it was paramount that recipes were followed exactly so everyone knew exactly what the patients were – or weren’t consuming.

But at home? Pffffft! It’s whatever goes.

This was fun because the chicken marinated in shredded cantaloupe before it was grilled – something I shall be doing, again.

Chicken and Cantaloupe

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup grated cantaloupe
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix together and place in baggie with chicken. Let marinate about an hour, give or take. Grill over fairly hot heat until cooked.

Meanwhile, make the cantaloupe topping.

  • 1/2 cantaloupe thinly sliced – use a mandoline, if you have one
  • 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sambal oelek
  • chopped parsley
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 scant teaspoon fish sauce
  • pepper
  • chopped salted peanuts

Mix the cantaloupe slices with the onion, sambal oelek, parsley, lemon juice, pepper, and fish sauce. Place atop the cooked chicken and finish with chopped peanuts.

This one is a definite keeper. I can see a few different variations on this theme. Cantaloupe really is refreshing and it’s the perfect fit with a summer meal.

Maybe next year we’ll grow some cantaloupe out in the south 40!