Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

We sat under the walnut trees. The same trees that gave an abundant harvest two years ago when a then wobbling Ivy joined me in collecting the tender walnuts that had fallen from the branches. My friend, Steve, an incredibly talented wedding designer, had set up a large wooden table heavy with florals and beautiful edible things that ran down the middle of the table. The eight of us – my brothers, their wives, Gabe, myself and my parents sat down to dinner to celebrate the forty years that my parents have been married.

With help, I cooked a family style meal that felt fitting for the occasion. Smoked salmon on puff pastry with fresh peas in creme fraiche started our dinner. It was a subtle homage to salmon pie – a dish my mom made throughout our childhood. When mom made salmon pie we knew we needed to set the table and that we would be having a leisurely dinner in the dining room. It felt special.

Next I paraded large platters of sliced melon topped with a sweet and tart basil vinaigrette to the table. Crisped pieces of prosciutto lay on top of the melon and large, pillowy leaves of basil finished the dish. I grilled romaine then generously topped them with anchovy vinaigrette and dotted little that with little jewels of roasted cherry tomatoes over the green, wilted leaves. The main course boasted a dried plum (it sounds so much better than prune) and prosciutto stuffed pork tenderloin that nestled into a bed of Parmesan polenta. We ate while the two cows and horse watched from the field across the driveway.

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt

Forty years needs to be celebrated well. 14,609 days of choosing to love another person, of saying I do again and again and holding firm to the commitment they promised to the other when they were both young.

“What is something that you guys have learned from our marriage?” My dad asked while we ate.

I thought for a moment but it didn’t take long for me to respond. “You’ve shown me what it looks like to strive for friendship. Both of you seek the other as your best friend. You work hard to maintain that friendship and have never grown complacent in that.”

Writing about dating my husband feels as if I’m writing a book on marriage with recipes. And as someone who has been reading books about relationships since I was barely dating, I feel up to the challenge, am loving analyzing marriages – mostly mine – and trying deeply to understand what makes them successful. What I come back to again and again is the very lesson that my parents taught me – it’s friendship and an untiring striving to maintain the friendship.

I don’t remember long conversations about maintaining a friendship in marriage but I saw my parents live it. I saw them nurture their shared interests and I heard their desire to spend time with the other. They not only love each other, they like each other. Seems simple. And it is. But it is just as easy to neglect the friendship and allow complacency to reside in its place.

Our date nights are one of the ways Gabe and I work on our friendship. It’s for us and our marriage but it also is for our children to see he and I putting an effort into our marriage. It’s easy for me to feel badly about the simple pasta that I’ve made for the kids while I prepare a feast for their dad and I. But they are happy with their pasta, or grilled cheese or leftovers or pb&j, and they see us working on our marriage. My hope is they will have an understanding when they marry that effort is needed for a relationship to thrive. That they won’t be blindsided by the difficulties in marriage and will have an example of the two of us continually building on our friendship, the foundation of our marriage.

Someday I hope Gabe and I can sit at a table with our children celebrating 40, 50, 60 years of friendship. That’s over 3,000 dates to build on our friendship while sitting at a table enjoying great food. I like the sound of that.

Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto // Not WIthout Salt



Tuscan Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crisped Prosciutto

serves 4


1 small tuscan melon (or cantaloupe), peeled, seeds removed and sliced in 1/4” wedges

3 slices prosciutto

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil (plus more whole leaves for garnish)

salt & pepper (lots of pepper)


Arrange on the melon on a platter and set aside.

Set a cast iron skillet or saute pan over medium high heat. Add the prosciutto slices in a single layer and cook 1-2 minutes on each side or until crisp. Transfer the prosciutto to a rack or some paper towels until you are ready to serve. This can be done a few hours in ahead if you keep it well covered once cool.

In a bowl combine the olive oil, lime juice, honey and basil. Whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the melon then roughly crumble the prosciutto on top of that. Finish with a few large leaves of basil then serve immediately.


Thanks again to Steve for making the event incredibly beautiful and to my husband for taking the photos.

28 Responses to “Tuscan Melon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crispy Prosciutto”

  1. Amy Alt

    Looks like a beautiful evening, and such a lovely photograph at the end it reminds me of a black and white snap of my grandparents which is pinned above my bed where they look like the best of friends. Forty years is truly inspirational!

  2. gerald baron

    Looking at these pictures I would say to have been there would have been heaven. Oh wait! I was there–it was heaven. Ash thanks to you and Gabe and all those who helped make this possible. What an incredible memory!

  3. Abbe@This is How I Cook

    What an eloquent tale and one that will survive ever after. The illustrations that accompany the story is art in its truest sense! And what an incredible family that chooses to celebrate with just each other.

  4. Kathryn

    I think you’re so right about friendship being the key to a long & happy relationship. The day when my boyfriend told me that I was his best friend was far more special to me than the day when he told me that he loved me. This is such a beautiful post, as ever. Congratulations to your parents on 40 years of marriage.

  5. Susan

    I’m in love with the way you crisped the prosciutto!! Such a lovely contrast to the soft melon, definitely will be making this for my next party!

  6. Nishta

    what a stunningly beautiful event. my favorite picture, though, is the one of your parents–they wear forty years of joy and trust on their faces and it’s so inspiring.

    I think it’s so important to talk about the work of marriage; we don’t do it enough in our culture, and I think it comes as a surprise to people that the best marriages are the ones where the individuals are actively working inside of it. my partner and I have been together for eleven-and-a-half years, and though we can’t (yet!) legally marry, our relationship and the meaning we make for it is one of the things I am most proud of.

    thank you for sharing this beautiful family celebration.

  7. Mollie

    I follow most blogs because of the photos, and recipes which is partially why I read yours. However, your gift for writing is amazing, I absolutely fall in to your posts because of how you write. Thank you…

  8. Anjali

    Just lovely. I hope to make it to 40 years with my own best friend — and that I have a daughter (or son!) who puts together a celebration as beautiful and heartfelt as this.

  9. Perry

    There is no recipe for marriage. In fact we have heard a lot of successful stories about it. And definitely our parent’s journey is one of those inspiring love stories we’ve ever heard. Anyway, your article is very inspiring. Love the pictures, the food and the story of your family. And I’ve learned a lot from it, it’s truly worth my time reading it.


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