The 4th of July is almost here and today, I’m sharing a tasty summer appetizer that’s perfect for a backyard bash! This recipe for Melon and Prosciutto Toast with Mint Pesto is sponsored by Albertsons and Five Crowns, a local SoCal farm.
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Melon and prosciutto is a classic Italian combination. I enjoyed it plenty of times during my trip to Italy last year! Something magical happens when you pair juicy, sweet melon with salty, cured ham. I especially love to eat prosciutto-wrapped melon during the summer months when melons are in peak season.
In this recipe, I’m taking this classic combo to the next level. You start with a base of toasted Italian bread, slathered with lemon-spiked ricotta. Next, you stack up thin slices of prosciutto and cantaloupe—particularly a vine-ripened Five Crowns Origami Cantaloupe. The toast is finished with a fresh mint pesto infused with garlic, lemon and toasted pine nuts. Each bite has a lovely balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy with a pop of freshness from the pesto. It’s light, bright and just what I want to eat on a hot summer day. Continue reading for the recipe.
Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Five Crowns Origami Cantaloupe fields in Brawley, CA (about 2 hours from San Diego). Their cantaloupes are sugary sweet with a wonderfully juicy texture and robust aroma. They’re the perfect counter to the salty savoriness of prosciutto.
I was able to find Five Crowns Origami Cantaloupes at my local Albertsons (along with all the other ingredients needed for this toast!). The Albertsons near me has such a great produce section that’s packed with so many fresh goodies, including many products from local farms. I really loved visiting the cantaloupe fields at the Five Crowns farm to see how the melons were grown, harvested and packed.
Here are some photos from the experience:
Five Crowns has 1,800 acres of Origami Cantaloupe fields along with 200 acres of honeydew melon fields and 300 acres of mixed melon fields.
It takes about 90 days for a melon to fully grow. During the last four weeks of growth, the farmers walk the fields to check in on the melons and test for ripeness. During the last 8 to 12 days, they stop watering the melons to help concentrate the flavor.
I just loved all the care and attention to detail the Five Crowns team puts into their fields. And all of that love really comes through in the produce! Click here to learn more.
If you plan on serving this toast at a party, I would recommend prepping all of the elements in advance. Earlier in the day, you can toast the bread, slice the cantaloupe, separate the prosciutto slices and blitz up the pesto. Store everything except the bread in the fridge until ready to serve, and then assemble just before guests arrive.
This mint pesto is made with fresh mint leaves, garlic, toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Simply add all the ingredients to a food processor and blitz until a loose sauce forms. If you don’t want to bother with making pesto at home, you could also use store-bought basil pesto here. The mint-cantaloupe pairing was inspired by an appetizer I enjoyed during the Five Crowns farm visit!
Melon and Prosciutto Toast with Mint Pesto
For the mint pesto*:
- 2 cups lightly packed mint leaves
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- Zest of 1/2 lemon (you’ll use the other half in the ricotta mixture)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the toast:
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 slices of toasted Italian bread (or any rustic bread)
- 12 thin slices of Five Crowns Origami Cantaloupe
- 6 slices prosciutto
To make the pesto, add mint, pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic to a food processor, pulsing until finely chopped. Add a few pinches of salt, several turns of black pepper, and 1/2 the olive oil, pulsing to combine. Pour in remaining olive oil and pulse just until a loose sauce forms. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
Add ricotta, lemon zest and lemon juice to a medium bowl with a pinch of salt and a few turns of black pepper. Stir to combine, then season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
To serve, slather each slice of bread with ricotta, then top with cantaloupe slices and prosciutto. Finish each piece of toast with a drizzle of mint pesto.
*If you don’t want to make this pesto, you can use store-bought basil pesto instead!
This post was written in partnership with Albertsons and Five Crowns. All thoughts, opinions and recipes are my own.33