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Mâche with Spicy Melon & Pink-Peppercorn Dressing

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Serves four.

  • Make the menu:
    A Mother´s Day Lunch
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 86

Puréed melon adds a hint of sweetness to the dressing, while pink peppercorns impart a perfumy note to this pretty salad.

  • 1 tsp. pink peppercorns
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 medium ripe melon (cantaloupe, Crenshaw, Charentais, or Galia), peeled, cut into thirds, and seeded
  • 1 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar; more to taste
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice; more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh hot chile (such as Serrano, jalapeno, or Thai bird's eye)
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. coarsely chopped mint leaves, plus 12 large mint leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 oz. mache, trimmed, washed, and dried (about 3-1/2 cups)

Toast the pink peppercorns lightly in a small skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Lightly crush them with a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the bottom of another small skillet. Set aside. In the same skillet you used to toast the peppercorns, lightly toast the sunflower seeds over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Coarsely chop approximately one-third of the melon and purée it in a blender until smooth, about 45 seconds. You should have 1 scant cup melon purée. Pour it into a medium bowl and add the vinegar, lime juice, chile, garlic, and half the crushed peppercorns. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the chopped mint leaves and salt to taste. If the dressing is too sweet add a little more vinegar or lime juice.

Just before serving, cut the remaining melon lengthwise into 8 long, elegant slices, each about 1 inch thick. In a large bowl, toss the mâche and torn mint leaves with just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves. Season with salt to taste. Arrange the mâche on serving plates with two slices of melon per plate. Scatter the toasted sunflower seeds and remaining pink peppercorns on the top. Serve the remaining melon dressing on the side.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings; Calories (kcal): 120; Fat (g): fat g 7; Fat Calories (kcal): 60; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1; Protein (g): protein g 3; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 180; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

A very delicate salad with pretty flavors. The melon added a perfect touch of sweetness. I used canteloupe and will experiment with other melons - might be fun to try a combination.

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