There are two types of cooking. At least, two that are currently in my mind right now. The first is cooking out of necessity, like getting dinner on the table after a long day or making breakfast in the morning when you are still groggy. The second is a work of art: cooking (or baking or what have you) for the sake of expression.
When you are cooking for the sake of expression, you let flavor and sensation take you by the hand and lead the way. My good friend Christine, Chef and Owner at Fresh Thymes Eatery, would say that ingredients talk to her. A pot of simmering lentils would chime in: "Christine, add more wine!!!" (I hope it's ok I just told everyone that! 😉). I love this image: it paints a back-and-forth between chef and food. I've never had a bowl of lentils talk to me, but I know the dance: it waltzes you through the kitchen and over to a bottle of balsamic vinegar. You're not even quite sure where you're headed, but you know it will be beautiful when you get there.
I love that type of cooking. It feels very visceral.
When I started making this appetizer, both types of cooking came together. I was making snacks for guests, and wanted to create a recipe for Foraged Dish that used OrganicGirls' new Butter, Plus blend as a sort of crostini (this blend of butterhead lettuce hearts has as much iron as spinach, can you believe that?!). That's the tactical part... the part I can take credit for. But all week a whisper had been at my ear: Ricottaaaa. Cantaloupe. A ripe cantaloupe. This is the two-step you find yourself in when the food is doing the thinking and you're just following it across the dance floor. Next thing you know you're munching on an appetizer that is totally new and different. And it always works: when the ingredients are whispering to you, it's because they know best.
Give this sweet-and-savory canapé a shot for your next happy hour: grab a ripe melon (one that you can smell even before you cut into it), cook up some bacon or pancetta, and add a dollop of ricotta. Ricotta is like magic, so from there you're golden. The drizzle of balsamic gel is for extra credit.
OrganicGirl provided me with product for this blog post, but the recipes and opinions are all my own. Working with brands to develop wholesome recipes is one way I keep Foraged Dish going! OrganicGirl helps me stock the pantry and keep the blog going. I only work with brands that I truly enjoy and use.
Serves: 4 | Total Time: 15 minutes
- 1 container OrganicGirl Butter, Plus Greens
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cantaloupe, scooped into ball with a melon baller
- 1 cup pancetta or bacon, cooked and chopped into 1-inch pieces or smaller
- Spread the butterhead heart pieces out on a plate in a single layer. Spoon 1 tablespoon of ricotta in the middle of each piece of lettuce.
- Place 1 cantaloupe ball in the middle of each scoop of ricotta, and then top with a piece of pancetta. Drizzle with balsamic gel and sprinkle with pepper to taste.