Last night was one of those nights when pretty much everything on the dinner plate, except for the meat, was raised in our own backyard. Even the rub on the pork chops was made with dried paprika from peppers we harvested from the garden last week, dried in the food dehydrator for a few days, and then ground into powder in the spice grinder. But more about drying the harvest in a subsequent post. Today’s focus is on that pastel-fleshed, tropical-scented cucurbit, the cantaloupe.
A few weeks back when I gave you a photo tour of my kitchen garden, I showed you this photo and challenged you to find all the melons in the picture:
Without even zooming in, I can spot at least seven cantaloupe on that one vine alone. And we have three more equally prolific vines. (Not intentionally; somehow what Bob thought were cucumber plants that he was transplanting along the fence to the chicken pen turned out to be more cantaloupe plants.) Which means that for the last several weeks, the top shelf of the refrigerator has looked like this:
Yes, that plastic storage container on the right contains even more cantaloupe. Needless to say, we’ve been eating a lot of cantaloupe: cantaloupe smoothies for breakfast, cut-up cantaloupe for snacks, prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe for fancy snacks, and even cantaloupe sorbet for dessert.
In trying to figure out even more ways to use up our bountiful cantaloupe harvest, it occurred to me that the flavor profile and texture of the cantaloupe is similar to that of the mango. Mango makes a great salsa to pair with grilled meats, so why not try the same with cantaloupe? Another kitchen garden recipe was born, using these ingredients:
A recipe from my kitchen garden: Grilled Pork Chops with Cantaloupe Salsa
For the spice-rubbed, grilled pork chops:
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- Two 10-12 ounce bone-in center cut pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
- Vegetable oil
Two hours prior to grilling the pork chops, prepare the dry rub by combining the first five ingredients in a small bowl. Coat the chops with the spice mixture, place them in a sealed plastic bag, and refrigerate.
Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator and, keeping them in the sealed plastic bag, let them stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Brush the grill with oil. Transfer chops to the grill. Grill for 5 minutes per side, rotating the chops a half-turn once on each side to get criss-cross grill marks.
Remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil and stand for 5 minutes before serving. Top with cantaloupe salsa. Serves two.
For the cantaloupe salsa:
- 1 medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped sweet white onion
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to serving to allow flavors to blend. Use leftovers as a snack with your favorite tortilla chips.
Do you have other ideas for how I can use my surplus cantaloupe? If so, please, please, please share them in the comments section below!