Prosciutto and melon is a tasty shareable appetizer with a sweet and salty combination. Guests will also love the homemade balsamic glaze that pairs nicely with the fruit and dry-cured ham.
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When juicy melons are in season during the summer, I like to use them to make this delicious appetizer. All you need is two ingredients- thinly sliced prosciutto and pieces of cantaloupe or honeydew, or both melons! I also have a delightful balsamic glaze to drizzle on top for tanginess to balance the sweet and salty notes.
For the best taste, I prefer to use fresh melon. It may seem a little intimidating to peel and cut, but I assure you it’s easy! I’ll show you a few simple knife skills to make hearty wedges, perfect for wrapping with ham. This Italian-inspired appetizer is a fast yet fancy dish to share at your next barbecue or special occasion.
Cantaloupe is the classic choice for this dish because the sweet orange flesh is super juicy. To add a colorful contrast, you can also use green honeydew. Both are from the same species Cucumis melo and have similar firm textures. Their sturdy structure is ideal for wrapping with thinly sliced cured meat.
Choose a ripe melon that feels heavy and has a fragrant aroma. Peel the rind, remove the seeds, and cut them into wedges. I find that ¾-inch thick pieces, trimmed to about 5-inches in length, are just the right size for one portion. For smaller servings, you can use a melon baller to create spheres or just cut them into chunks. This size works great for adding a few pieces to a skewer.
I use paper-thin slices of prosciutto sold in the refrigerated section at markets. When served uncooked, like for this recipe, the style is called prosciutto crudo. It has an intense savory flavor with a hint of sweetness and richness from the streaks of fat.
When paired with the refreshing, juicy melon, the mix of sweet and salty notes burst with flavor. I use one slice per melon wedge, about ½ ounce in weight. You can also cut them in half if serving smaller pieces.
Wrap the melon
Tightly wrap each piece of cantaloupe or honeydew with one slice of prosciutto. The meat is very delicate, so be careful not to rip it when removing it from the package. I prefer to roll it onto the cantaloupe to control the overlap. You can even add fresh basil to each piece or slice some for garnish for an herbaceous note.
Make a balsamic glaze
To add some dimension to prosciutto-wrapped melon, make a balsamic vinegar reduction. The acidity enhances the salty meat flavor and helps to cut some of the richness in the fat. The fermented, aged vinegar concentrates and thickens into a sweet, tangy sauce.
Add some honey or pure maple syrup for extra sweetness and more solids for a thicker consistency. The process takes about 25 minutes to evaporate the water. As the mixture cools, it will have a syrup-like character. Drizzle some on top right before serving. I also like to use it on my caprese salad for an extra punch of flavor.
Serve this with
Crudo is a raw, Italian dry-cured aged ham made from salted pork legs. The slices of meat are skinny, making it easy to eat and for fat to melt on the tongue. Each region produces its particular version, like prosciutto di Parma, Modena, Toscano, or Carpegna, with Protected Designation of Origin (POD). You can also find varieties seasoned with herbs like rosemary or spices like garlic and black pepper for more fragrant pieces.
Serve the raw slices as an appetizer like on an antipasti platter. It pairs well with melons, figs, pears, crisp vegetables, crusty bread, aged cheese, and its saltiness is ideal for topping on pasta and pizza.
Sparkling wine like prosecco or champagne, or a crisp chilled glass of sangiovese, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or rosé. I love a Riesling or Moscato d’Asti for a sweeter option.
Both have sweet, juicy, firm flesh and are from the same species Cucumis melo. Cantaloupe has a beige netted rind and orange flesh with over twice as much Vitamin C and A compared to the green flesh of honeydew [source]. The green melon has very smooth skin and is harder to detect when ripe.
Best enjoyed the same day
If you wrap the ham around the fruit and store it overnight, the salt from the meat will draw out the fruit’s juices due to osmosis. This process creates a puddle of moisture on the bottom of the container, making the appetizer soggy in texture.
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Prosciutto and Melon
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 12 cantaloupe wedges, ¾-inch thick, or honeydew
- 6 ounces prosciutto, 12 slices
- Add balsamic vinegar and honey to a small saucepan, stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer over medium-low heat with some bubbling. Reduce the sauce to about ¼ to ⅓ cup, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the balsamic reduction to cool slightly. It should have a maple syrup consistency.
- Wash, dry, and cut the melon into twelve, 3/4-inch thick wedges. Trim to create about 5-inch long pieces.
- Wrap each melon wedge with one piece of prosciutto.
- Drizzle the balsamic reduction over each piece then serve immediately.
- Cutting the Melon: Wedges can be sliced and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Wait to wrap the prosciutto around the fruit until the day of serving.
- Balsamic Glaze: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Gently reheat if needed. Dilute with warm water if very thick. For a quicker option, use store-bought products.
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