I first sampled this simple yet exquisite dish at Le Comptoir, one of Paris’s most popular Left Bank bistros. As the chef made his rounds to greet guests, I was anxious for him to stop at our table so I could ask if he would share the recipe. He smiled and explained how easy it was to prepare. He had scooped balls from Cavaillon melons (sweeter than but similar to cantaloupes), and then assembled a sauce by puréeing some extra melon with watermelon, lime juice, and honey. For serving, the melon balls were napped with the sauce, and then dusted with freshly grated ginger. At home I used both cantaloupe and watermelon balls for visual contrast, and added candied ginger as a garnish.
One medium cantaloupe (about 2½ lb/1.2 kg)
One medium watermelon, preferably seedless
(about 5 lb/2.3 kg)
¼ cup/60 ml fresh lime juice (3 to 4 limes)
½ cup/120 ml honey
2 tbsp chopped candied ginger
6 mint springs
- Using a melon baller, scoop out 2 cups/290 g of cantaloupe and 2 cups/360 g of watermelon. Place the balls in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. (The balls can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance.)
- Chop 1 cup/145 g of cantaloupe and 1 cup/180 g of watermelon and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add the lime juice and honey and process until the melons are puréed and well blended with the lime juice and honey.
Strain the sauce over a 2-cup/480-ml or larger measuring cup with a spout to remove any seeds. Use a spatula to press down on the pulp to release all of the juices. You should get about 2 cups/480 ml sauce. Cover the sauce
with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until icy cold, at least 1 hour. (The sauce can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance.)
- Divide the melon balls evenly among six martini or widemouthed wine glasses and pour about cup/75 ml of the sauce over each. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tsp candied ginger and garnish each with a mint sprig. Serve cold.
by BETTY ROSBOTTOM