Prosciutto & Melon Bruschetta with a Balsamic Spread

 

I used to say that Italy was my second home. When Summer came around we would pack the essential things in my family and drive down to Camping Marina De Venezia, located on Punta Sabbioni, Cavallino, Italy. I have gone there a total of 12 times in my life.

 

 

The first hours of driving were quite pleasant and exciting, but after a while when nothing but autobahn, cars and gas stations were to be seen in Germany it became quite boring. “When are we going to be in Austria?” I would always ask my parents. Most often I was told to be patient, and reached out for yet another piece of candy.

Arriving in Italy after almost 2 days of sitting in a car was great, and felt like a huge accomplishment. I can’t even imagine what my dad must have felt, as he was the one driving the whole way. I would run down to the local restaurant with my sisters, while my dad put up our trailer tent. Oh, glorious traditions. 

 

 

I remember one time we visited Venice. We had walked around the beautiful island for a long time and were highly in need of lunch. So we decided to rest our feet in a little square surrounded by tall, rundown buildings. In that square there were not many other things to do or see. But there was a little charming Italian restaurant, which we decided to visit. We ordered our food and began our long wait.

This is one major difference between the U.S. and Europe: In the States I don’t think many people spend much more than a total of 30-45 minutes in any given restaurant — ordering, getting drinks, waiting the food, eating and paying. It’s always go-go-go! In Europe, on the other hand, people linger. I would say they stay at least 2 hours before they move on.

 

 

Anyway, back to the story. While waiting, the head chef comes out to our table and says that he wants to give us something on the house (wait, WHAT? You do know we are in Europe where NOTHING is free, right?) He has a tray in his right hand full of prosciutto e melone. You can imagine how excited we got! And oh how heavenly this appetizer was! In the following years we wanted to visit this restaurant and I think we succeeded once or twice (with much trouble) — the narrow streets all look the same in Venice!

 

 

The Italian “prosciutto e melone” is an amazing appetizer of just two ingredients: dry-cured ham and cantaloupe. If you haven’t already tried it, I strongly encourage you to taste it the next time you are serving Italian at home, or when out at an Italian restaurant. I will often “test” the authenticity of Italian restaurants in California by looking for “prosciutto e melone” on the menu. If the restaurant has it, it’s most often descent.

I decided that today I would change this appetizer a little. And why not change it by combining it with another Italian appetizer (bruschetta) I so dearly love?

 

 

Buon Appetito!

 

 

Prosciutto & Melon Bruschetta with a Balsamic Spread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cantaloupe, cut into small cubes
  • 12 thin prosciutto slices
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar (my favorite is raspberry, aged for 25 years)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 12 toasted whole wheat ciabatta slices (see my Whole Wheat Ciabatta)

Directions:

  1. With a handmixer, combine the cream cheese and the balsamic vinegar. When it turns into a smooth spread, set aside.
  2. Turn the oven to its broiler setting. When hot, place the bread slices in the oven. Let them toast on both sides. Take the bread slices out of the oven.
  3. On each slice of toasted bread, spread a little balsamic spread, followed by one slice prosciutto, a small handful of melon and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve immediately. 

 

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