For the second half of my European tour, I went back to one of my favorite places: Tuscany. I spent the weekend in San Quirico d’Orcia, a tiny medieval town nestled in the Val d’Orcia hills, close to both the Montepulciano and Montalcino wine regions and to Pienza, the birthplace of Pecorino cheese. Though I didn’t get to do too much exploring (aside from a quick run through the countryside — those hills are no joke … ), because we were there for a wedding, what little we did see was charming and magical and I can’t wait to come back.
From there, we spent 48 hours in Florence, which is exactly as perfect as I remember. I found a new favorite gelato place, finally made it to the Boboli Gardens (third time’s the charm!) and ate my weight in bistecca alla Fiorentina, the thick-cut perfectly rare t-bone steaks that Florence is known for.
In both places, our go-to appetizer was prosciutto e melone, a common Tuscan appetizer that is simply just prosciutto and melon, usually cantaloupe. There’s no reason that something so simple should be so ridiculously good, but the sweetness of the melon combined with the salty meat is addictively delicious. It was an instant must-“make” when we got back, and luckily, it’s peak melon season, so we’ve continued our aperitivo habit at home (occasionally with an Aperol spritz!).
Though most places in Italy serve the prosciutto and melon with nothing else, a few weeks ago, I was enjoying my new favorite snack while trying to clear out the fridge and saw that I had some almost-about-to-wilt spinach and some cherry tomatoes. I had no other salad fixings, but I had prosciutto and I had cantaloupe and apparently, that’s all one needs for a super easy, super tasty summer dinner. The whole thing comes together in an instant, disappears just as quickly and somehow feels both incredibly indulgent and light and refreshing. If I can’t go back to Italy this summer, at least I (and you) have this!
- 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into pieces
- 1/2 of a small cantaloupe, cut into thin wedges (about 4 cups)
- In a large bowl, toss the spinach and cherry tomatoes with the oil, salt and pepper. Add the prosciutto and cantaloupe and toss once or twice to combine. Serve immediately.