Bread and I have had a lifelong romance together. I have tried to break-up with it over the years, but, like a bad habit, I just can’t. I accept bread into my life on many different levels. A nice hunk of fresh bread, still slightly warm from the bakery is always divine. However, let’s not forget the bliss that occurs when a layer of salted butter is added to it. Or, my all time favorite, using it as an edible sponge, soaking up whatever yummy sauce, dressing or pan jus that might remain on my plate from a delicious meal. Yummmmm…..
Summertime offers numerous occasions where I am called upon to bring a treat to a backyard get together, cabin or party that is suitable for sharing. I always love to bring an appetizer and in the summer months a beautiful fresh tomato bruschetta always fits the bill. Bruschetta of any sort is always a crowd pleaser, plus, it is GRILLED BREAD for Pete’s sake! How is that not one hundred different kinds of awesome!?!! When a piece of baguette is drizzled with olive oil, tossed on the grill and toasted until it’s crunchy on the outside and soft still on the inside, it is – for me – bliss.
For a recent TV appearance I played around with the concept of this classic summer appetizer, but this time around my bruschetta recipes did not highlight tomatoes, instead, I played with other quintessential summer ingredients, and from that came this unique Thai inspired cucumber and cantaloupe bruschetta. This time of year these two ingredients are at their prime and tossed together with fresh mint, basil, lime, ginger and fish sauce you will have yourself a playful and surprisingly delicious bruschetta topping to add to your summer repertoire!
The key to making this bruschetta is to be sure you take a few extra minutes to get as much moisture out of the cucumbers as possible. I found a great tip for this from Lynne Rosetto Casper, she suggests salting your cucumber and placing it in a paper towel, wrapping it all up and placing the cucumber bundle in the fridge for thirty minutes. Once thirty minutes have passed you find that much of the moisture will have been drawn out by the salt and soaked up by the towel! GENIUS! I tweaked this only slightly by adding the cantaloupe to the towel as well as a little bit of sugar. Yes! This little bit of sugar is so perfect for enhancing the natural sweetness of the cantaloupe, plus, if your cantaloupe is a bit of a dud, this small amount of sugar helps to sweeten it up a bit. The last tweak I made was to use a regular kitchen towel instead of a paper towel. This is a small tweak but you will never have to worry about it ripping and and you can pat it all dry with the sides of the towel once you take it out of the fridge. Awesome!
Once the cucumbers and cantaloupe are ready to go simply toss the fresh ingredients with the dressing, chill for 30 minutes – mostly because I like this a little to be a little bit crisp and cool – and then stir in the fresh herbs, you are now ready to go. When it comes to serving this you can of course take the time to spoon the bruschetta onto each piece of grilled bread, or, you can scoop it into a bowl and place the grilled bread into a basket next to it, letting your friends make their own. It’s summer my friends, the secret to making summer entertaining enjoyable for yourself is to make it not only easy to prepare but easy to serve. A fresh and no-cook appetizer like this bruschetta comes together in a flash and leaves you more time for sitting back and enjoying a crisp, cool glass of rosé with your friends.
Do you have a super simple appetizer that you like to make in the summer? What is it? Please share your favorites in the comments section below, we’d love to know what your go to summer appetizer recipes are!
Cantaloupe and Cucumber Bruschetta
½ of 1 Whole Cantaloupe, peeled, seeds removed and diced into ¼” sized cubes
1 Large Seedless Cucumber, peeled, remaining seeds removed and diced into ¼” sized cubes
1 tsp. Salt, divided
½ tsp. Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, grated (you can use fresh ginger from a tube as well)
2 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Light Brown Sugar or Palm Sugar
½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
Zest and Juice from 1 Whole Lime
1 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp. Neutral Oil like Vegetable Oil or Light Olive Oil
½ Cup Fresh Mint Leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
½ Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, sliced into ribbons
Basic Grilled Bread (see recipe), Crackers or Chips
Spread the diced cantaloupe and cucumbers out on a kitchen towel, sprinkle them with the ½ tsp slat and the granulated sugar, wrap the cucumber and cantaloupe up in the towel, place the bundle in a bowl and set it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This process will pull the excess moisture out of the ingredients and soak it up in the towel while doing so.
While the cantaloupe and cucumber bundle is in the fridge prepare the dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the ginger, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ½ tsp. salt, red pepper flakes, lime zest, lime juice and fish sauce. When the sugar and salt have dissolved whisk in the Oil and set aside.
After 30 minutes remove the cantaloupe and cucumber bundle from the fridge and place it on the counter. Open up the towel and pat the ingredients dry with a paper towel, soaking up any moisture that has remained. Now add the contents to a large bowl and toss them in the dressing. Next place the bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes for the flavors to marinate and just before serving add the basil and mint, then, taste it and add adjust the seasonings such as salt or perhaps another squeeze of lime will be needed.
Time To Eat!
When ready to serve the bruschetta you may scoop the mixture onto grilled baguette slices and set them out on a platter like a little open face sandwiches, or, let your guests make their own perfect bite, buy putting the mixture into a fun bowl and tossing the grilled baguette into a basket. Now your guests can put as much or as little onto their grilled bread that they like – plus, it’s WAY less work for you!!
Tip For Cantaloupe Bruschetta
I recommend not dressing this bruschetta more than 30 minutes before setting it out. You can prepare all of the steps ahead of time such as chopping, making the dressing, prepping the herbs. And then 30 or so minutes before go time toss it all together, leaving the herbs for last. If you do wish to toss it all together ahead of time, make a little extra dressing as it may need a splash more if it’s been sitting for a while.