Fried watermelon and prosciutto with sweet balsamic

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

I think I invented this dish when I was asked to appear on Saturday Kitchen and persuade viewers that watermelon was worth eating. It was delicious, so I hope I succeeded. But I’m nervous of claiming originality ever since, in the seventies, I thought I’d invented Stilton soup (I’d just been on a press trip to Denmark and eaten Samsoe soup, and had concluded it would be even better with Stilton). I served it at Leith’s Restaurant and my catering company, wrote it up in my Daily Mail column, and pretty soon it started appearing in magazines and on the menus of other restaurants. I was pretty pleased with myself – until I opened Cassell’s Dictionary of Domestic Economy, published in 1925, and read a recipe for Derbyshire Stilton soup, almost identical to mine: basically a celery soup with a ton of Stilton whisked into it at the end.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 small watermelon
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a small handful of rocket leaves
  • 60 g feta, crumbled
  • a handful of pomegranate seeds
  • balsamic glaze to serve
  • salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until golden. Tip out onto a saucer to cool.
  2. With a large sharp knife, halve the melon across the equator and carefully cut 2.5cm (1in) wide, even slices from each half. Trim the skin from the watermelon slices, then cut eight batons about 7.5cm (3in) long. (I’m afraid you won’t need the rest of the melon but you could use it to make the Watermelon Blocks with Spiced Seeds.)
  3. When ready to cook, but not before or the salt in the ham will draw out the water in the melon and make it slippery, wrap a slice of prosciutto around each melon piece.
  4. Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Once it is hot, fast-fry the watermelon, in batches, frying the side with the ham join first, to stop it unravelling as you turn the baton to fry on all sides. You want to fry fast enough so that the prosciutto crisps up and browns but the watermelon stays raw inside. Remove from the pan and set two batons on each serving plate.
  5. Scatter over the rocket, feta, toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Drip or drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the plates, and add a touch (not more than a teaspoon per plate) of balsamic glaze to each one. Season lightly with salt (remember the ham is salty) and generously with coarsely milled black pepper.