Cucumber Cantaloupe Salad

20130903_142006The school buses rumbling down your block may signal that summer is over, but the calendar says otherwise. September is still peak harvest season here in Michigan — easily the best time of year if you like fresh and locally grown food. Both of the key ingredients here are in season now.

This side dish came together partly out of serendipity and partly from my kitchen-sink approach to making salads and slaws. I’ve been making this without the melon for several weeks now as a way to keep pace with all the cucumbers ripening in my backyard garden. Then I saw a container of cubed cantaloupe and decided to combine the two to make space in the fridge.

Voila! The melon adds a sultry sweetness and a bit of color contrast to what is otherwise a perfectly satisfying salad on its own. Together with the cucumbers and onion, the result is a light, cool and refreshing salad that would work well with grilled food, as a side salad for lunch or at a picnic.

Because I rarely make anything the exact same way twice, I’m guesstimating the amounts here and playing loose with the exact ingredients. You could even add a salty cheese, like feta, and I’d bet the results would be pretty wonderful. I like to make a big bowl of this and use it throughout the week.

Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan and Kabsik Park

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3 cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 cantaloupe, cut into cubes or thin strips
½ onion, thinly sliced (or substitute 2 green onions)
Small bunch of fresh herbs (such as dill, cilantro or Italian parsley), roughly chopped
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar (or substitute white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
½ tablespoon sugar (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cucumber Cantaloupe Salad

1. In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
2. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss well to combine. Refrigerate for a couple hours to allow flavors to intermingle before serving.

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