— by Chef Luigi Diotaiuti
Nothing compares to the rich, musky aroma of a fresh, locally grown melon. Interestingly, the English word “cantaloupe” comes from the Italian Cantalupo, a papal seat near Rome, and the first place in Europe where cantaloupe was grown after being introduced from the Persian Empire.
This dessert is very easy to prepare and can be transformed into a family-style recipe by adjusting the sugar content, and omitting the alcohol if preferred. I love the style, simplicity, and pure, seasonal flavors of this recipe so much that I often make it for television cooking demos. Keep in mind that this recipe benefits from being refrigerated overnight — so it is perfect for entertaining.
Full recipe after the jump.
- 1 pound fresh cantaloupe flesh, cubed
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons strega liqueur, divided
- 4 8×3-inch gelatin sheets, diluted in enough cold water to cover
- Place the melon in a food processor, blender, or juicer. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the liqueur. Pulse on and off until you have a liquid puree which is completely uniform.
- In a medium saucepan, add the gelatin mixture and another half tablespoon of liqueur, and allow it to melt over medium heat.
- Add another tablespoon of liqueur and the cantaloupe puree. Stir well from the bottom and sides to avoid the gelatin from crystallizing.
- Transfer the mixture into six cups, and cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate for a minimum of six hours.
- To serve, carefully unmold the containers with the help of a butter knife, and invert onto a serving dish. Serve with the sauce of your choice, chocolate and ladyfingers, if desired.
Sommelier’s Tip: Strega is an Italian herbal liqueur that has been produced since 1860 in Benevento, Italy. The presence of beautiful and distinctive saffron — and 70 other herbal ingredients, including mint and fennel, makes it the perfect partner for the flavor of cantaloupe. The word strega means “witch” in Italian, because the combination of 80 proof potency and scores of powerful herbs make it a recipe to be reckoned with.
Copyright Luigi Diotaiuti, 2013, reprinted with permission.