Melon Salad with Candied Walnuts and Lime

*This post was created in partnership with California Walnuts. I have loved working with them this year to bring you some season-inspired recipes with walnuts as the star. As always, the words, images and recipes are mine. 

 

There’s always a moment at the end of summer when I see the slightest shift of color on the leaves, or feel a brief chill in the air and then that’s it, I’m ready for fall. That moment hasn’t happened yet. 

We’re still squeezing every last drop of sunshine out of summer. In fact, we’re currently on a road trip right now that will bring us the home mere hours before the first day of school. We’re dipping our toes into rivers so cold our feet instantly numb. We’re eating the sort of food that one does when on a road trip and making memories all along the way. We’re making the absolute most of summer and it feels exactly right.

I know that moment will come, as it always does. In that instant I’ll be ready to braise, roast and sip on long simmered soups once again. For now I’m still craving the tart, sweet pop of cherry tomatoes and the candy-like juices that dribble down my chin and arms while biting into a pillow soft peach. And melon salads that tips towards the savory with the help of a pungent red onion and peppery olive oil. Candied walnuts add crunch and depth of flavor while fresh lime juice brings an addictive zip. 

The walnuts here are deeply toasted then coated in a simple caramel. If you feel a bit adventurous add a few chili flakes or smoked paprika to the caramel to teeter the line of sweet and savory. Either way this salad is a simple reminder that summer still lingers on.

 

Melon Salad with Candied Walnuts and Lime

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups raw walnut halves

Flake salt

1 small honeydew melon

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 lime

Olive oil

Instructions

Toast the walnuts in a 350°F oven until fragrant and deepened in color. Put the walnuts in a large heatproof bowl but keep a parchment lined sheet pan nearby. 

Add the sugar to a small saucepan set over high heat. Melt the sugar until deeply caramelized, it will start smoking lightly. Swirl the pan or stir to caramelize evenly. 

Working quickly pour the caramel over the walnuts then stir to evenly coat. Once coated immediately dump the walnuts to the sheet pan and separate with a fork. The caramel hardens very quickly. Add a hefty pinch of flake salt then let cool.

Once cool, transfer the walnuts to a cutting board then roughly chop.

Remove the seeds and peel from the melon then shave into long ribbons with a vegetable peeler. You can also cut into cubes if you prefer. 

Transfer the melon to a platter then add the sliced red onion. Squeeze the lime all over the top, drizzle with olive oil then add the walnuts. Finish with flake salt. 

For a more substantial salad add arugula, sliced endive or treviso. 

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Leg of Lamb, Lemon and Mint Salad

 

Rare is the book that changes you from within. That shifts your way of thinking, even if subtle, so that every breath, every step outside, every gentle breeze feels new. For me, Braiding Sweetgrass is that book. The heart behind Robin Wall Kimmerer’s words are what inspired the intention behind our Nourishing Through Nature Workshop we hosted earlier this summer.

“Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.

Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Leg of Lamb, Lemon and Mint Salad

Ingredients

1 4-5 pound leg of lamb

salt and pepper

2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt

2 small Meyer lemons

1 generous cup fresh mint leaves

Instructions

If you're the sort that plans ahead, generously salt and pepper your lamb leg the day before you plan to cook it.

You are welcome to add more spices to your lamb. I really enjoy coriander and cumin. On this particular day I used a dried morel salt to season the lamb.

If using a grill, preheat until very hot. If you plan to cook over the fire, ignite a large fire then let it burn down to a hot pile of coals. Cook the lamb about 8-10 inches from the coals on a grill grate. You may have to move the lamb leg around a bit to keep it from charring too much.

I've found that a deep sear, about 7 minutes per side, and then another 10 minutes on a cooler part of the grill or fire gets me a beautiful medium rare lamb. Use a meat thermometer for the most accuracy. 145°F is just right for medium rare.

Let the lamb rest for at least 15 minutes.

While the lamb rests, generously slather the yogurt on the bottom of your platter. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the lemons into 1/8-inch thick small triangles and tear the mint leaves.

Add pieces of thinly sliced lamb to the yogurt. Then top with the lemon and mint.

This workshop is the work of many hands.

Photos: Gabriel Rodriguez

Florals: Teressa Johnson

Natural Dying: Hina Mughal

Location: Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center

Serveware: Barebones Living

Partner: American Lamb Board

 

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