A few weeks ago I observed, and delightedly got involved with, a lively debate on Dorie Greenspan’s Facebook page about an intriguing pasta recipe whose sauce included cantaloupe, cream and anchovies. I could hardly imagine the combination and was determined to try it.
A few days later, after warily eyeing my full 2.8 ounce jar of imported anchovies, I decided to check back to see if I was really supposed to use it all. I was amused to see that Marcella Hazan, whose beloved name had been invoked in reference to her version of pasta with cantaloupe, had politely dismissed the heavy infusion of anchovies, saying they would be “so assertive they would knock the melon off its dainty perch.”
I immediately searched online for the recipe and, when I could not find it, went to the source by posing a question on her Facebook page. She replied quickly, noting that the recipe is on page 105 of her 1986 classic, Marcella's Italian Kitchen. Still available in paperback, but apparently not in most local bookstores, I borrowed a copy from the library. Tonight, after finally making the recipe, I will go online and order one to keep.
I dare not quote the recipe here, but I concur with her own assessment that it is both “simple” and “elegant.” It calls for 3 cups of cantaloupe cut in a small dice. I started with an amazing heirloom variety, juicy and brilliant in color, but needed to add a wedge from a more standard melon. Graham helped with the chopping and stirring, not to mention the eating and sighing.
I’d wager that most people who tested it blind-folded would never guess that cantaloupe is the key ingredient, but since such a particular focus group is not readily available I’ll share that Tim said it reminded him of sweetly tender butternut squash.
We served this with slices of mixed, lightly salted heirloom tomatoes. Amazingly, there is a small portion left, but Graham smartly claimed dibs for tomorrow’s lunch. Not a problem, as I will definitely make this again.