Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The season for simplicity

Hello? Is anybody out there?

It seems like I’m the only person on this planet who is not on vacation yet.

I rarely go on vacation in August. I always prefer September, especially if I’m going to a Greek island and early September is the best time for it. There aren’t too many tourists, you feel like you almost have the whole island to yourself, it is quieter, way cooler and oh so serene. That’s how I like my vacations to be of late, serene.

So since I’m still here, battling the heat from my apartment in the city of The Hague, I might as well share some recipes, right? Perhaps the five of you who are reading this would like some cooking inspiration, or should I more accurately say "non-cooking" inspiration since all you have to do to make this salad is chop and assemble the ingredients.

This is a pretty awesome salad though, of cantaloupe, cucumber, tomatoes, a tangy goat’s cheese and a rather straightforward dressing. ‘Tis the season for simplicity, for melons and tomatoes that are so juicy and plump, they really don’t need anything more to be delicious.

The honeyed flavor of the orange-fleshed melon, the sweetness of the tomatoes, the refreshing qualities of the cucumber and the creamy and slightly sharp taste of the goat’s cheese will satisfy and cool you down at the same time.

Like me at the moment, you may not be swimming in clean blue seas or sitting on a sandy beach under the sun, yet this salad feels and looks so fresh you might as well be.

Cantaloupe, Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Goat’s Cheese

Cantaloupe melons are a variety of very sweet, orange-fleshed melons. They can be found everywhere in the Netherlands but to be frank I have never seen them being sold in Greece. If you live in places where they are not readily available, substitute with another very sweet melon.

This salad is ideal served on its own for lunch or even a light supper. Pair it with some bread (of course) to have a more substantial meal.

Yield: 4 servings


for the dressing
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
Pinch of caster sugar
Sea salt flakes (I used Maldon), to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the salad
½ ripe Cantaloupe melon, thinly sliced
½ large cucumber with skin, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2-3 vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
100 g fresh, crumbly goat’s cheese or homemade chèvre
Small purple shiso leaves or any other micro greens you like or fresh mint leaves


for the dressing
Add all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and using a small whisk or a fork, mix everything together. Give the dressing a taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside while you prepare the salad.

for the salad
In a large salad platter, arrange the cantaloupe and the tomato and cucumber slices. Crumble the goat’s cheese over the top and drizzle the dressing with a light hand, adding more if needed. The fruit and vegetables should be lightly covered with the dressing, not swimming in it.
Garnish with the shiso leaves and serve immediately.


  1. Glad to see that someone else is working as well! I do agree that september is the best month to visit the greek islands (or nearly any place in the world). I always have my holidays on the last 2 weeks of june (cos the days are longer) and on the 1st 2 weeks of september. Been doing this for the past 10 years and still think these are the best times in the year for holidays.
    As for the colorful salad, I do love cantalupe melons (very popular in Portugal) with tomato and goat cheese but never thought of adding cucumber. Never tasted shiso leaves but I'll take your suggestion for the mint leaves. Definitely have to try this lovely and simple salad - yes, just because we're not on holidays it doesn't mean we have to slave in the kitchen :p

  2. This looks a perfect balance of textures and tastes for summer. I prefer September, too.

  3. Still here too. Although we are leaving again shortly after a two-week stint in the office. It is hot here, really hot. And we too have been eating various combinations of cucmber, feta, tomatoes. This is a variation we are missing. Looks delicious!

  4. That is probably the prettiest canteloupe I have ever seen! We've been getting some good tasting canteloupe but nothing like yours.

    I'm another September and even October-November vacationer and am always happy to stay home and almost hibernate July and August.

    Beautiful mix of good things in that salad.

  5. Still here in the desert (grateful for our A/C!) and not vacationing till October! Like you, I stick around in the summer - all the best fruits and veggies are at the market! And this salad is proof! That melon is ridiculously beautiful! I tried slicing a piece off my screen... And, to me, there is nothing more elegant than a simple vinaigrette. With all the fancy vinegars and oils and emulsions now available, we have forgotten how simple is often best. Thanks for the reminder! ~ David

  6. I, too, am not on vacation this August. We wait until fall for our time-out as well. Not so many people, not so much noise....much more serene. The color of your melon is incredible!
    We have many wonderful melons here, but I have not seen that intense color, but I am sure I can use what I have to make your cooling, no cook dish.

  7. Counting the weeks, going to Kos in September. There will be a little wind, the sea will be warm and the occasional rain shower, if at all, is a good reason to stay a little longer at our favourite tavernas. Maybe I ought to take this recipe with me. :-)

  8. Magda - I love this salad combination, beautifully done! It's a favorite of mine to incorporate summer melons into savory dishes.
    Yes, I am also still around this month too. :) And like you and others here, am looking forward to a break in September when it is way less crowded but still warm enough!

  9. Oh my, what a lovely idea! I know exactly how I'll be using my Sugar Kiss Melon and Feta cheese tonight!

  10. nope, I'm in my little home office, writing on a rainy day--what a stunning arrangement of colors on that platter to brighten this day. I have had watermelon with tomato and cucumber, but never cantaloupe--and I think I love this idea more! thanks, Magda--

  11. A simple, but refined dish! My kind of summer salad. Really mouthwatering.



  12. Gorgeous!! I don't even like melon (I know, forgive me?) and I want to devour this.