Diary of a Foodie

Melon, Arugula, and Serrano Ham with Smoked Paprika Dressing

Diary of a Foodie: Season One: Salt and Pepper

Serves4 (main course)
  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:30 min
January 2007
Serrano ham and smoked paprika tossed in with arugula and a light vinaigrette turn melons into a full meal when the weather's too hot to warrant anything heavy.

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For dressing

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot)*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil

For salad

  • 4 cups 1-inch pieces cantaloupe flesh (from 2 1/2- to 3-lb melon)
  • 4 cups 1-inch pieces honeydew flesh (from 2 1/2- to 3-lb melon)
  • 4 large bunches arugula (1 1/2 lb), coarse stems discarded
  • 8 oz sliced serrano ham (1/16 inch thick), cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips

Make dressing:

  • Whisk together lime juice, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and add oil in a slow stream, whisking until well blended.

Make salad:

  • Toss cantaloupe and honeydew with half of dressing in a bowl. Toss arugula and ham with remaining dressing in a large bowl, then add melon and salt and pepper to taste, tossing gently. Serve immediately.
Cooks' note: It's important that the ham not be sliced as thin as prosciutto usually is. Slightly thicker ham is easier to cut into strips and will stay separated in a salad instead of clumping together.

*Available by mail order through The Spanish Table (206-682-2827) and Tienda.com. The smoked paprika in this recipe adds depth. Unlike Hungarian paprika powder, which is prepared by drying the chiles in the sun, the Spanish smoked version (like La Chinata brand) is prepared by roasting the peppers over smoldering oak fires before being ground to a velvety powder.
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