cantaloupe salsa

I wish I could tell you that I’m putting my time into more exciting things* but fact is, it’s nothing but boring stuff keeping me out of the kitchen this week: a new oven that needed installing, pipe work shutting off the water in our apartment today, more doctors appointments than any healthy person should ever require, long classes to teach us the proper diapering of a tiny baby butt, and the kind of steamy heat outside that would make it absurd to turn on the oven anyway (though I should, you know, confirm that it works, right?). Banal, right?

cantaloupe cubes

But as usual, this has not kept me from bringing home gobs of produce each week. I can’t help it: everything is just too pretty and tasty. Fortunately, you don’t actually have to cook peak-summer produce to make it taste good. Heck, the hardest thing is not eating it straight even after you’ve set your mind to rendering it into something else.

salsa ingredients

Mango salsa is nothing new, heck, I’d say two years ago when everyone in the world seemed to simultaneously discover it, you could barely find a quesadilla that didn’t come with a little pile of it on the side. But in these non-tropical parts, I have yet to find a mango at my local markets, but they’re rolling in melons right now. I’ve long suspected they’d make a great swap with mangoes — I like the idea of pairing them with something bolder, like proscuitto, ham or even just straight salting them, as a lot of the world does — and my hunch was duly rewarded this afternoon. Bonus points: It required no cooking, heating up the apartment, running water or frankly any great effort to throw together. Everything should be this easy when you’re eight million months pregnant.

cantaloupe salsa

* Actually, we did get back to the North Fork this weekend, thanks to generous friends with lovely homes, and it was wonderfully relaxing despite the fact that wineries can be cruel teases of places for the temporarily booze-free. But wow, is our wine rack well-stocked for One Day in September. All that’s left is to choose which one to pop open in the recovery room!

paumanokblackberries, flysoon!baydoes not like to sharelenz winery

One year ago: Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte, Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti and Garlic-Glazed Mustard Skewers
Two years ago: Zucchini Bread

Cantaloupe Salsa
Adapted from Gourmet

Makes about 2 cups of salsa

This would be great over grilled fish or chicken, not that ours ever got that far. It is equally good with tortilla chips.

It occured to me after the fact that this would be fun with a mix of honeydew and cantaloupe, for color and a bigger range of flavors.

2 cups diced (1/4 inch) cantaloupe (from a 2 1/4-lb piece)
1/4 cup diced (1/4 inch) sweet onion (such as Vidalia) or red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or cilantro
1 (2-inch-long) fresh hot red or green chile (skip the seeds if you want to dim the heat), minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix everything and eat immediately.

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116 comments on cantaloupe salsa

  1. Good news: Wine helps with milk production. I’m just saying.

    Thanks for the recipe – I’m completely uninspired by cantaloupe these days, but keep on buying them..!

  2. I am not a melon fan, yet all the juicy-sweet fruit in the markets is finding itself irresistible. I recently brought home a Galia melon, finding it’s nectar like fragrance in the store too good to pass up, yet on my counter it sat for a week. Typical. Of course, your dear David came to the rescue with melon sorbet. Not only does it require no cooking in the 115 degree heat (!), it actually will successfully cool you down. That is, until you turn on your oven for Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake.

  3. Katie M.

    This looks absolutely amazing. I too have trouble actually getting home with fresh fruit to make anything. Somehow it disappears in the car…

  4. Rockmelon (cantaloupe to you) is one of my favourite fruits during summer and no BBQ is complete without a rockmelon or mango salsa, what a pity you can’t get hold of mangoes we can’t escape them here in Australia.

    Another way I love to enjoy rockmelon during summer is to cut wedges of the rockmelon, wrap them in a piece of prosciutto and give them a grill on the BBQ. Delicious! And for a dessert recipe you can’t go wrong with chunks of rockmelon mixed with chopped mint and a little sweet dessert wine poured over a couple of scoops of vanilla icecream. A good option after your baby is born!

  5. A baby on the way AND a new oven–both of which will, no doubt, be perfectly calibrated?! How lucky are YOU? And I’m not even going to get into those gorgeous North Fork photos–breathtaking.

    In other news, I was PLASTERED after my first post-partum (half) glass of wine. It was like high school all over again, woot! Enjoy.

    1. deb

      I forgot to add that the old oven had a terrible habit of self-extinguishing its pilot light almost daily, filling our apartment with all sorts of surely baby-safe gassiness until we realized it had to be lit again. And oh, one does not need to know how awkward it is to be on the floor with a lit match in the crawlspace between the fridge and oven when one is as big as a house and needs a crane to get back up again. Anyway, new oven (you know, when I try it out) will be welcomed with open arms.

      Julia — It is because I ate all of the non-cubed pieces. They had it coming.

  6. PregMeg

    I keep buying fresh produce too and eating it before I make something with it. I DID manage to make the peach and creme fraiche pie, but now I just keep eating the peaches.
    Being almost 9 million months pregnant in the heat I have little desire to cook, you are making me look bad, lol.
    I love fruit salsas though and I think I could handle making this recipe now. Too bad I ate the cantelope today, I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to make this.

  7. Di

    Have you been to Jackson Heights lately? We have a lot of sweet mangoes for sale these days. I am tempted but my track record with fresh fruit isn’t so good and they seem to only sell them by the box-full.

    Still, if you don’t want to cook – and want a subway stop with elevators….

  8. What gorgeous photos you take. I LOVE cantalope and am always looking for savory-ish ways to use it.. can’t wait to try this! Hope you’re doing well, Mama-In-Progress.

  9. Aggh my brain has turned to mush in the NY heat. I meant to say that I’ve never seen a cantaloupe salsa before but love the idea, and wondered where the inspiration came from? (I’m English so wondered if it was a regional US thing?) LLGxx

  10. MK

    Now that is a dish for this 90% humidity weather! Those cubes are just too beautiful!! Good luck with the stove – no chance it’s any bigger is there? :)

  11. Marissa

    wow – it’s a shame there are no limes in Israel. Any suggestions for a substitute. I just know that lemon juice won’t work.

  12. Marie M.

    I just checked the kitchen. I have one (and a half) juicy, delicious cantaloupe, a small watermelon, a half-pound of ripe plump cherries (down from two pounds), one huge white peach, two perfect white nectarines . . .and an avocado and a tomato. *Sigh* I will eat all this myself. I won’t “make” anything from it. I love summer.

    And your pregnancy will soon be over and you’ll have a beautiful (hungry) baby. I promise.

  13. My cantaloupe was getting kinda soft, almost too soft to eat, so I blended it, froze them into heart-shaped pops, and served them up with lemon whipped cream and a couple blueberries on top. It was like all natural sorbet! No added sugar, and perfect for the heat we’re having. I guess some people call it ‘summer’. I call it, ‘definitely not winter’.


  14. I hate to admit it, but the only way I’ve found to truly enjoy mango is in a salsa. I’d never thought of a melon salsa before – yours looks like heaven to me, I could eat it on its own, right now :-) If only it wasn’t winter here in Sydney!

  15. Shiyiya

    Oh god, I need a cantaloupe to eat whole and plain straight out of the skin with a spoon and I need it NOW. *drools*

  16. My baby us due in Oct and I *wish* I could eat onions/ peppers without suffering the consequences! More power to you! It looks delicious though and maybe I can still locate a good melon in Alabama after Oct 5. To be eaten in a salsa with a nice glass of wine on the side. Do think the recovery room nurses would mind?

  17. This is making my mouth water just looking at the pictures because I love cantaloupe! What a great summer treat – will definitely have to make this soon!

    ps – I’m pregnant too and cantaloupe is on of the only things that I can manage to eat these days. Will be glad when the morning sickness has passed!

  18. HansGustav

    I agree with Rebecca; peaches are a nice substitute for mangoes. You might even add a dollop of yogurt and serve it over a nicely grilled chicken breast. Served with a pilaf, it’s very nice.

  19. Love the idea, and how timely, since I just saw that the local Sprouts (a farmers market-y grocery) has cantaloupe 3/$1 this week. I have never seen them that cheap. Would be great over fish, I agree! Also, love the pics, the one of the baby bump and the glass of wine particularly. And as for your comment on your dicing skills, that’s how I make sure my knife skills look great too! Just eat the imperfect pieces. Same goes with cookies that break, or anything else like that. It’s free food for the cook!

  20. The melons are rolling in, they have crates of them at my local whole foods and I can smell them a mile away. And you are right about summer produce being eaten before it can be used for what it was intended for…happens all the time with figs, cherries and raspberries in my household…they rarely end up in the tart that they were meant for.

  21. I used to be one for loathing the very idea of fruit salsas. You know, hand to heart and the terrified “gasp!” But then I found one in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that sounded intriguing, made it, served it over lightly pan-fried fish and my husband and I are believers. It is perfect for summers.

    I can’t make my best friend believe that, though.

  22. You’ve piqued my curiosity. I’m a Mexican food and therefore, salsa, aficionado. I would’ve never imagined making salsa of Cantaloupe. You’re absolutely right, it’s a sensible alternative for my parents who live in the Southwest and have melon, not mango, growing in their garden. I’ll have pass along this recipe.

    P.S. the nyc weather has me making lots of beverages and cold salads…today is especially muggy. yuk.

  23. Sounds funny to say, but I like the idea of cantaloupe here – specifically for it’s watery-ness. Mango is succulent, but melons have that burst of juice that is so, so refreshing. We’ve been on a Santa Claus melon kick lately, and I am thinking it would work beautifully here. Stay cool, Mama!

  24. I agree with previous comments, who dices that perfectly! That’s amazing! I definitely lack those fine dicing skills, but I fake it by calling my style “rustic” :-)
    And I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about how hard it is to not eat peak season produce just straight from the farmers market bag – I had the same thought as I was turning cantaloupe into a granita. The results always seem to be worth it, though, as this salsa looks fantastic.

  25. kateiline

    Hey Deb. I have a question I’ve been wondering for a while, and hope you can help me with. I’m allergic to onions. Not the keeling over because I can’t breath type of allergy, more the severe stomach cramps for hours on end type. In any case, I am wondering how I can make salsa that tastes good without using onions. When I’m craving Mexican type foods, I usually have to make them myself so I can make sure I can eat it. I’ve got a good recipe for onion-free guacamole, but salsa has evaded me. Without the onion, it just tastes like a tomato (or in this case, melon) mix with not too much else going on. Do you have any suggestions?

  26. Oh my goodness. That onion looks like it’s nearly the size of the cantaloupe. I usually shy away from salt on melon because it just never interested me, but this is one I will definitely try. Thanks for swaying me!

  27. Wow! My boyfriend LOVES cantaloupe. Loves loves loves. It would be fun to actually do something with it besides eat it by the chunk!
    Today is our 4 year anniversary — could cantaloupe salsa be the perfect gift?

  28. Jackie

    I really like this idea as I’m not much of a melon fan, it’s too watery and doesn’t have a distinct enough taste for me…but put salt and cilantro on it and it’s suddenly refreshing with just a hint of sweetness. Awesome. Thanks for helping me think outside the fruit salad.

  29. Beautiful dicing I agree although I’m sure you may know and not want to post about it lest some weirdo run off with the info – you can indulge in a glass of wine during pregnancy.

    I’m not a wine drinker at all (just cook with it) but my midwife had me drinking a glass in the evenings to deal with some insomnia in the last trimester.

  30. Amanda

    I made the honeydew version of this on Sunday and ate it over some grilled chicken. I really just wanted to eat it with chips, but I thought, no, that would be weird. I don’t even really like chicken that much. I’m glad you say it’s great with tortilla chips – next time, I’ll go with my instincts.

  31. Deanna B

    I might have to try this as a bruschetta. Mmm…grilled ciabatta topped with proscuitto and a spoonful of this would be lunch if my Italian deli wasn’t closed on Wednesdays.

    My mom has made a salsa like this for as long as I can remember. Hers is made with watermelon though and she calls it Fire and Ice Salsa.

  32. Joy in DC

    I have a big batch of Thai Basil growing in my herb garden, and I’m going to bet that herb will work wonderfully in this recipe (especially as a side to chicken, shrimp or fish). I’ll report back once our tiny cantaloupes in the garden are ready to be picked!

  33. Linda Y

    did i tell you how much i LOVE your site! i remembered a wonderful cheesecake with brownies & chocolate crust & it was effortless to locate…great job in the kitchen always! & great job on a very beautifully designed website that is truly easy to navigate! wishing you the best!

  34. Susan

    I bet this would be good piled on 3inch planks of salted cucumber slices and bits of any variety of fresh crumbly cheese. I love melons, you can do so much with them and they are so refreshing on a hot day.

  35. I’ll spare you my cantaloupe joke:

    Why couldn’t the melons get married? Because they cantaloupe (cant elope).

    Har har.

    Okay, maybe I didn’t spare you. I’m a dork.

    However, apparently they can at least mingle with the limes.

    Seriously, this salsa looks great! And seriously that goat looks like my husband’s uncle.

    Bye now.

  36. Kim

    Our local fish taco joint has been replacing *some* of the mango in their mango salsa with cantaloupe for some time now. It’s pretty tasty that way. They also put pineapple in it.

    BTW, I for one prefer the shorter RSS format – I always open the permalink and this makes it much easier for me.

  37. Speaking as the Southern California cook, seriously you can use just about any fruit for salsa. This one is good, but try adding nectarine, peach, pineapple, strawberry, maybe not apple but who am I to say? It’s all good…especially on a piece of grilled fish!

  38. Oh delicious! I have to do something with my fruit. I keep forgetting that I have it, because I’m truly an out of sight out of mind person. Maybe I will try this with blueberries or cherries so I don’t get tempted to buy fruit until I’ve used what I have!

  39. i have it on good authority that melon was invented just for those of us unfortunate enough to be very pregnant in the summer. once i had an entire sugar baby for lunch. kind of a bad idea. anyway, that salsa looks divine; lime juice, fresh cantaloupe, and raw onions? i am in heaven.

  40. Your photos from North Fork are beautiful.

    This is the time of year that I wish my better half, who is allergic to some melon, and therefore avoids all melon all the time, would get a temporary pass form the allergy gods. Ripe, seasonal melon is nothing like the rubbery-ice-cube melon in a lot of restaurant fruit cups the rest of the year, it’s so floral, and good.

  41. agl

    I just made something similar this past weekend, but along with cantaloupe, added cubed watermelon, tomato, and cucumber. So good. But onions would have been a great addition. Great for summer.

  42. OK, so this totally isn’t a post about the cantaloupe salsa… but I just realized that you will probably not update for a really, really, really long time after you have the behbeh. And that made me so sad, because I already visit this page at least five or six times between updates, just checking… because I need the photos, the recipes, the inspiration, and I really, really, really hope that you are stockpiling updates and luscious photos for later!!!

  43. What a coincidence! I just blogged about this same recipe earlier this week: cantaloupe salsa, with red onion, red bell pepper, cilantro and lime juice. Delicious! :)

  44. Elizabeth

    Only you could make salsa seem so…spectacular! So lucious! So refreshing! Seriously, how do you make us crave EVERYTHING! And we’re not even pregnant! Tho I must admit, when I was (all 3 times), I craved fresh fruit, mango topped whole fruit sorbets and Mexican food. This would have been perfect.

  45. barb

    I live in Toronto, Canada. I buy a bag of frozen mango chunky squares at Costco Not pretty like this picture but tastes good.

  46. Rhonda

    Good looking salsa, don’t think mine will be that cubed though. Like the idea of honeydew added. Did you notice the ad before the comments? This will work as low fat too.

  47. I absolutely cannot get over how perfect your cantaloupe squares are! How do you do that? I guess mine are usually over-ripe, in which case maybe it’s best to use less-ripe cantaloupes? Either way, I’m definitely trying this recipe soon. Thanks for the idea!

  48. Megan

    The best place for mango in NYC is all along Jerome Ave in the 180s & 190s in the Bronx at the little fruit stands. When I used to live there you could get a whole perfectly ripe mango peeled right in front of you (by a man holding what can only be called a machete) and cubed into a little plastic tray with a fork and a napkin for $1. A little bit of heaven on my walk up to Lehman college.

  49. Sharon

    I was given this recipe (a close approximation) a couple of weeks ago and it included adding a couple of cubed cucumbers! It was fabulous. “Never woulda thunk it!” : )

  50. Julie B

    I used casaba melon with the cantaloupe and it adds a wonderful cucumber taste. I generally steer away from fruit salsas – but this is perfect!

  51. This looks great! While my mouth loves peppers, my belly (and the 10 month old’s belly) really hate them. So, I subbed in some garlic salt and cumin to give it a little kick and some cucumber (seeds removed, skins on) to give it a little green.

    I am so looking forward to eating this on a fish taco later tonite!

  52. Mmm…I once did something similar with strawberries instead of cantaloupe and it was amazing!!

    NOTE: Make sure that you wash a cantaloupe thoroughly before you cut it! There is often mold on the rind that can contaminate the flesh if it’s cut into before washing.

  53. Maille

    You are not eight million months pregnant until your joyous bundle is late! I hit term today and miraculously did not puke for the FIRST TIME since December. To celebrate, I made blueberry pies. I’ve been making my body weight in Chicken and Veggie stock (over the past couple of weeks), along with a big ol’ veggie lasagne for the freezer, and freezer biscuits.

    Do you find that class helpful? I thought it was a bunch of nonsense, right along with ‘What to Expect’. What a terrible book.

  54. This looks like the best summer salad ever!!! Delicious :) and I love easy, no-oven required summer recipes. Will definitely be trying this!

  55. Hmmmm, what an interesting switch on the usual mango salsa. Can’t imagine the taste of the cantaloupe with the spicy stuff, although we do a ton of mango/pineapple w/ spicy. Gotta try it. Thanks for the great idea!

  56. Toni

    Wow, we’re on the same page! I just cut up a melon into one inch chunks, doused them with lime juice, a little salt, and chiffonade of anise hyssop which included flower petals of the same! Great summer night taste treat that was greeted with much enthusiasm. Now I need to add the chiles and try this one! Thanks!

  57. Alice

    I just made this and oh my goodness. It is so delicious. I am eating it on pita chips. The cantaloupe is sweet with the tangy cilantro and peppers. Thank you for such an easy and different recipe.

  58. I added some yellow bell pepper and red vine tomatoes and didn’t really follow the portions. I needed more heat as well. Clearly mine is not as sexy as yours, but not bad for a 26 year old bachelor who can barely wait for a pizza to get done cooking. Thanks for the idea.

    Heres a pic :


  59. AngAk

    don’t forget the coolest summer taste treat—half an ice cold cantaloupe filled with scoops of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. absolutely delightful lunch on a beastly hot day.

  60. Jenny

    I made this last night with a homegrown melon. It was fabulous. I ate the whole batch with a spoon. Best summer meal ever: this salsa, sweet corn and a sliced homegrown tomato. Life is good.

  61. This is wonderful! I love making fruit salsas. Watermelon salsa and a pineapple variety are common in these parts. Now I’ve got a recipe for cantaloupe! Excellent.

  62. Karthika

    Hi Smitten/Deb,

    I got married a few days before you did. I loved reading your blog and tried several of the recipes–until I had a baby 1.5 years ago and cooking became sort of last-minute. I just started looking for recipes again and what a thrill to find out you’re having a baby yourself! Best of luck!

  63. janet

    Just made it and although my mouth is on fire, (which I like!) this is delicious!! My husband who hates cilantro is gobbling it up. All this as he makes us mojitos!

  64. I made this salsa over the weekend and tossed in two small finely minced gypsy peppers that I got from my CSA. It gave it a little extra color and crunch. I brought it to a BBQ with tortilla chips and people went wild. Great idea – thanks!

  65. Aulia

    I made this last night. I didn’t have any chiles and served it more like a fruit salad with steak and it was so good on a hot day, just perfect. Thanks, I am always looking for something creative to do with melon.

  66. kris

    Made this last night with the cilantro and it was excellent over grilled chicken breast. The cantaloupe combined with the lime was so tangy. I actually enjoyed this more than a mango salsa I usually make. You were right about the seeds though, I left all of them in and my mouth was on fire! Next time will definitely only use half of the seeds. Can’t wait to try it with basil.

  67. Rachel

    We just harvested a bunch of cataloupe from our garden, so the recipe was very timely. Used about 1/2 the cilantro – the last bit that I had, and then an little extra onion and lime juice. Still turned out great – very versatile.

  68. Laura

    i just made this today for a BBQ at our house. It is an unexpected fantastic treat and a great way to use all the cantaloupe that our CSA keeps putting in our basket. Thanks for the recipe!

  69. Kelley

    Am making this for a dinner party tonight – in fact all the ingredients are inches from the laptop just waiting to be combined and scarfed! It all looks great – can’t wait to dig in!

  70. Hmm, cantaloupes are typically my enemy (not sure why, I’ve just never liked ’em). However, this looks super tasty and I’m a HUGE fan of its sister, mango salsa, so I’ll give it a whirl! Thinking I might spice it up a bit though with a dash of diced jalapeno

  71. Judy

    I’ve made this several times. It is a delicious accompaniment to fish. Made it for my son and daughter-in-law recently and they loved it. Thanks.

  72. Genie K

    this is fantastic! just made it with a small cantaloupe and i wish i’d doubled the recipe :-) i used three spicy peppers from our garden and with the sweet melon, it’s a definite win. thank you!

  73. Toni

    I made this! For yeas now and thought I was the only one who ever thought of it! Ha! Instead of cilantro I use anise hyssop leaves–herb garden junkie here. Can’t wait to try w cilantro–also sitting pretty in the garden.