Cucumber and Melon Salad with Manchego, Mint and Pickled Onion
For the Pickled Onion:
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon orange zest
Pinch red chile flakes (or to taste) 1⁄4 cup white balsamic vinegar
6 slices red onion, about 1⁄4” thick (about 1⁄2 cup)
For the Salad:
1 English cucumber, seeded and shaved or thinly sliced (about 3 cups) 1⁄4 peeled honeydew melon, shaved or thinly sliced (about 11⁄2 cups)
1 navel orange, zested, peeled and sliced into rounds
1⁄2 cup mint leaves, plus a few extra for garnish
2 tablespoons slivered almonds (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄4 cup crumbled aged Manchego or Pecorino
Whisk salt, orange zest, red chile flakes and vinegar together in a small bowl. Add onion, separating the rings, and gently toss to coat. Let onions pickle for at least 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the salad, stirring occasionally to coat with more vinegar.
Place cucumber and melon ribbons in a large bowl with orange rounds, 1⁄2 cup mint leaves and almonds. Pour onions and their pickling liquid on top and gently combine. Drain and arrange salad on a serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with cheese and a few more mint leaves. Serve immediately.
Cheese will crumble easily at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge an hour before you start making the salad. (If you’re short on time, cut it into small pieces.)
For bright pink pickled onions, marinate red onions in the fridge a day or two in advance.
Use a mandoline or sharp knife to slice cucumber and melon into ribbons. They will curl if they are less than 1⁄4” thick. Cantaloupe or other melon will also work.
Pickled onions will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Make extra and tuck them into sandwiches, omelets, anything.
To keep a bunch of herbs fresh, treat it like a bouquet of flowers. Snip the bottom of the stems, place in a jar of water, cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate.