Melons. Les melons. Aren’t they glorious too?
I don’t know about you but I simply cannot buy a melon when it’s out of the season. I remember when I was a child and my parents, my brother and I drove for our summer vacation across France, to another corner of the country. Sometimes it was to the west coast we’d travel–just as we will in a few weeks–and sometimes it was south that my parents had decided we’d spend les grandes vacances (summer vacation). To my brother and me, it didn’t matter where we were traveling, as long as that involved the seaside. On allait à la mer !
One year, we vacationed in the presqu’île de Giens. My parents had rented a cute cottage by the sea, which was very convenient since my mother was able to cook and we had easy access to the beach. Every morning, we liked to walk to the local market to buy local fresh produce. And on the last day, my mother purchased a large cagette de melons (a box filled with melons), and one of apricots–something she invariably did each year, no matter where we vacationed.
In fact, there was never a vacation that didn’t involve bringing local food home.
I keep a vivid memory of our family vacation by the seaside. And of the drive back each year as the car smelled sweet and delicious from the fruit we had put in the trunk.
The melons were always remarkable.
So naturally, in summer, most likely like a lot of you, I enjoy eating heaps of scrumptious melons. I tell P. that they don’t taste as sweet as the ones from our summer vacation, to which his response is that I feel this way because I was young and carefree, and that everything by the seaside seemed to taste better. He’s probably right. Although…
Nevertheless. The other day, it was this salad that glorified a summer cantaloupe. I had made a point to leave the fruit out on the counter top for a few days until it was ripe and à point. I made the salad with mixed greens and leftovers of a roasted chicken. The marriage between the tenderness of the meat, slices of melon, raspberries and mixed greens tossed in a pistachio & lime vinaigrette was incredible.
In fact, the salad was so tasty that I ate it within minutes–not always a good thing, is it? Lunch left Lulu and I feeling light when we finally set off for the park. I was happy with the salad. Lulu was with the sandbox at the playground. And cookies.
On the way back home, I decided to make a quick stop at the store for milk. What I didn’t expect to find there was what follows. Boxes of delicious looking white currants and gooseberries, local it read on the box, were neatly arranged in the fruit section. It so rarely happens that it frankly took me by surprise. “What am I going to do with those?” I kept thinking as I handed a $10 bill to the cash registrar. Blank. Hence the berries sat in the fridge for one day. Until the word tart, in all of its glory, popped into my head.
It was a spontaneous simple tart, in fact, that I ended up choosing. I didn’t have much to prepare since I already had handy leftovers of a rustic crust . Which left me with the preparation of the fruit only.
Minutes after I started to work, Lulu caught sight of the box of berries. “They are mine and I am going to give them to maman“, the look on her face seemed to be saying as she proudly carried to my small working table the box she was holding tight between her hands.
I cannot help but smile whenever I picture the scene again.
You can really use any fruit and spices you like. At each time I bake a tart like this one, it always evolves into something new.
So the result was a delicious dessert with character.
One that invariably makes me think about the beach. Our time away with the family. And of a day in August building a memory around food.
I am not ready to forget my princess’s tiny hands holding the fruit either.
For the salad:
- 7 oz (200 g) cooked chicken breast (or leftovers of a cooked roasted chicken), sliced
- 3 cups mixed arugula and watercress
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1/2 small cantaloupe melon, seeded, peeled and sliced
- 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
- Sea salt and pepper
- Purple basil leaves
For the vinaigrette :
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1 teaspoon mustard de Dijon
- Sea salt and pepper
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoons pistachio oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Pour la salade :
- 200 g de blanc de poulet cuit (reste d’un poulet rôti), tranché
- 3 grosses poignées de mélange de cresson et de roquette
- 100 g de framboises
- 1/2 melon des Charentes, sans les graines et la peau, et coupé en tranches
- 1 avocat, pelé et coupé en tranches
- Sel de mer et poivre
- Feuilles de basilic violet
Pour la vinaigrette :
- 1 gousse d’aïl, pelée et écrasée
- 1 càc de moutarde forte de Dijon
- Sel de mer et poivre
- Jus d’un citron vert
- 1 càc de miel liquide
- 3 càs d’huile de pistache
- 2 càs d’huile d’olive