Last week I was delighted to visit our local library for friend and neighbor Hillary Davis' book signing for her gorgeous, gorgeous new cookbook, Cuisine Nicoise. I'm so overcome by the recipes and the beautiful photographs - (and the history of her small town near Nice) - that the thought of a review overwhelms me. The evening was warm, and she handed out glasses of a very pretty but unidentified chilled soup as we settled in our seats.
I thought it might be cantaloupe, but the rosy spoonful of garnish on top was a mystery. I sipped and chewed, thinking perhaps it was raw cranberry. Whatever it was, it was tart and delicious. Later during her talk she identified it as a grated raw beet salad, sweet and sour at the same time, traditionally stirred into the cantaloupe and silky olive oil puree. Since that night, I'd been longing to make it and finally made it today.
It's a very easy recipe, and perfect for warm weather - whether a light supper or cocktail party appetizers - or, come to think of it, a picnic lunch on the beach.
La Soupe de Melon avec une salade de Betteraves Crues
This makes 4 servings.
1 medium beet, peeled
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided in half
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 t. kosher salt
Coarsely grate the beet on a box grater set in a large bowl.
In another small bowl, whisk the 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, and the salt. Pour over the beets and toss, then set aside.
4 cups peeled fresh cantaloupe, sliced or cut into chunks
1 cup water
4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place the cantaloupe, water, sugar, salt, and olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth. The olive oil adds a silkiness to the fruit puree that makes it far more interesting than a smoothie.
Pour the soup into 4 glasses or bowls, topping with a tablespoon of the beet relish. I served the rest of the beets in a small bowl for second helpings.
Enjoy the last of your August days! The sound of the crickets has changed, the goldenrod is blooming brightly, and I saw the first pale turnings of leaves on a very tall maple today. Too soon!