Over the four years I lived in Santa Fe throughout college, I spent a lot of time at the farmers’ market. The Santa Fe market was well established even then, active since the sixties and even boasting a few years during the nineties with Deborah Madison as manager. I loved the market most because it was a gallery of the differences between that home and the one I’d come from. I’d grown up in the land of apples, tomatoes, and blueberries, but in Santa Fe, the stars were the chiles, beans, lavender, and melons. Later in the summer, there was a farmer who’d drive right into the market and sell melons out of the back of his truck. They were piled like river rocks of different shapes and patterns, mysterious varieties like Jake’s and Crenshaw that you had to taste to understand. I had to walk a mile home from the market in the heat, but I’d always buy a melon, because every melon I ate that summer surpassed the previous one as the best thing I’d ever tasted.
Mediocre melon is edible. Supermarket cantaloupe in April is passable, and we often buy melons throughout the year. But a truly great melon will make you close your eyes and stop everything. Hand me a spoon and I’ll eat a half a melon on my own. But if we need a recipe, I prefer something with a little savory, a little salt, and a little green to prop that melon up on a pedestal of other flavors. Somehow all that contrast just makes it that much sweeter. Eat this all right away; it doesn’t keep well.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces arugula, roughly chopped
- ½ cantaloupe, honeydew, or other ripe melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough ½-inch pieces
- 2 ounces chèvre
- 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into thin strips
- Freshly ground black pepper