When it comes to quick and breezy summer eating, prosciutto e melone is a summer staple for any Italian – but why do we eat these two foods together? The answer, it turns out, is a centuries-old tale.
In Roman times, mixing cold and moist foods with hot and dry ones was a common health practice according to the ancient medicinal teachings of Humorism, a system based on the balance of four key elements: fire, air, earth, and water. Although prosciutto crudo was yet to be invented, the practice of eating cured meat with fruit was born in order to boost the immune system.
The actual recipe for prosciutto e melone popped up centuries later, written by none other than Pellegrino Artusi, the father of modern Italian cuisine. The dish seems to have disappeared after being published in Artusi’s seminal cookbook in the 1890s, only to reappear decades later. The pairing surged in popularity around the 1960s, and has been a star of the Italian summer table every since.
What makes it so good?
Al contadino non far sapere quanto è buono il cacio con le pere!
As this Italian saying goes, “Don’t let the farmer know how good cheese and fruit taste together!” The point is, we’re all a little crazy for the endlessly satisfying combination of salty and sweet, and prosciutto e melone is one of those dishes that strikes the perfect balance.
The power behind this pairing goes beyond flavour, though. Packed with vitamins, fibre, good fats, and protein, this refreshing plate is as versatile as it is healthy, to be enjoyed as lunch, part of an aperitivo spread, or even dinner, whether inside or out on the terrazzo.
The “Non-Recipe” Recipe
The best part? Prosciutto e melone is a no-cooking-required, two-ingredient, throw-together kind of meal. Simply slice a cantaloupe or other variety of sweet melon into eight long slices, removing the seeds and carefully carving the rind off of each slice with a paring knife.
Next, take 8-10 slices of prosciutto crudo (best if sliced paper-thin, and even better if prosciutto crudo DOP!) and wrap each wedge of melon in 1-2 slices of prosciutto, leaving the ends of the melon slices showing.
That’s it! Serve immediately, or keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Our extra tip? Try not to serve this dish too cold. Allowing the fat of the prosciutto to warm up will bring out the nuances of the prosciutto’s flavour.
Shop in-store at Eataly Toronto or on Instacart to try this quintessential Italian dish for yourself!