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A simple, spectacular salad

  • PHOTO COURTESY NEW YORK TIMES

This time of year, my diet turns almost completely plant-based. I suppose it’s only natural: This produce is seductive, with tantalizing shapes and colors, and the kind of sweetness that comes from being freshly picked. This is the magic moment when melons, berries, stone fruit, peppers, tomatoes, corn, beans and squashes collide.

For an extremely simple yet spectacularly refreshing salad, grab a melon, a cucumber and a handful of cherry tomatoes. With truly ripe fruit, the only seasoning you need is salt, pepper and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil.

The melon mirrors the tomatoes’ sweetness. The cucumber, a relative of melon, lends both crunch and herbaceousness.

Handfuls of basil and mint leaves and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, added just before serving, bring it all together.

Though perfectly satisfying as a first course or side dish, you could add some crumbled feta and call it lunch.

Melon, cucumber and cherry tomato salad

Ingredients:

• 1 small melon, like cantaloupe or honeydew (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

• 8 ounces cherry tomatoes of different colors, halved

• 2 medium English cucumbers (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Kosher salt and black pepper

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus more to taste

• Small handful of basil leaves

• Small handful of mint leaves

Directions:

Place melon, tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss well. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice. Toss and leave to marinate for a few minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Add the basil leaves, tearing larger leaves into pieces, and the mint leaves.

Before serving, fold the leaves into the salad and toss well.

Taste and add a little more lime juice, as needed.

Total time: 5 minutes, plus marinating. Serves 4-6.

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