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Tomato and melon salad with whipped ricotta, basil and black pepper

This is my first cooling summer salad for the season. Hyderabad is getting hot, and I look for salads to both be nutritious but also help keep you cool. I particularly love fruit in my salads, they are refreshing and add a sweetness and freshness to the table.

Ricotta cheese is usually looked down upon, grabbed by folks on a diet and usually avoided. This salad will change your mind, the ricotta is whipped till creamy and smooth, changing its palate-feel completely.

The chef brings together a number of wonderful flavors in this beautiful salad. The sweet melons are complimented by the silky ricotta that is drenched in an amazing basil infused vinegar. The tomatoes and radish add color and texture to the salad. This is what every well created salad should be like.

This book tends to hide in my collection and whenever I see it I tend to find a wonderful recipe in it. Most recipes are simple to make but the dishes are spectacular. Cal is an expert in designing dishes that are fabulous, and like this salad, unique. I love the way he combines flavors, textures and colors for a dish that stuns. I should eb cooking from here and his other cookbooks more often.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


5-6 basil leaves, sliced into ribbons

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Salt, to taste

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

12 oz ricotta cheese

Salt, to taste

1 yellow melon of your choice

1 basket cherry or other baby tomatoes, halved horizontally

2-4 scallions, thinly sliced into circles

3-4 radishes, thinly sliced

8-10 basil leaves, roughly torn if large, for garnish

Add the basil, vinegar, lemon/lime juice, pepper, and salt to a small bowl and mix well. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes for the basil to flavor the vinegar. After 30 minutes mix in the olive oil and allow to sit till needed.

Add the ricotta and salt to a small blender and whip till very smooth and glistening with oil. It should have the consistency of sour cream. Taste and adjust salt. Set aside in the fridge till needed.

Meanwhile, cut the top and bottom off the melon. Slice in half vertically. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Cut the melon into thin slices and trim the skin off with a knife to give thin wedges. Set aside.

To assemble the salad, strain the olive oil-vinegar mixture discarding the basil leaves. Press out all the liquids from the basil leaves to get as much of the dressing as possible. Set aside.

Spoon the ricotta in a large dollop into the center of a large platter. Spread out to the sides using the back of a spoon. Arrange the melon wedges on the platter. Distribute the radish and tomatoes between the melon slices. Drizzle with all the basil marinade over the ricotta, vegetables and melons. Garnish with the basil leaves. Serve.

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