When it comes to an easy summer appetiser, Prosciutto and Melon is an all-time favourite and a definite crowd-pleaser. There is something enticing about the combination of salty and sweet flavours which is universally appealing. This classic Italian dish, called Prosciutto e Melone in Italy, embraces the flavour combination of sweet melon and salty prosciutto.
Why we love this recipe:
This is an easy and refreshing starter that can also be served as an appetiser or light main meal to enjoy with crusty bread. On warm, summer nights, there are few starters that are easier or more enjoyable.
You will love Melon and Prosciutto because:
- Although simple, it is an elegant dish.
- You can assemble it in about 20 minutes.
- The flavours and textures contrast and complement each other.
- This is Italian simplicity at its classic finest.
- As a first course, it will not spoil your appetite for the meal to follow.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Prosciutto – in Italian, this translates as ham. Choose good quality. My preference is Prosciutto di Parma, also known as Parma ham, available from most supermarkets or good delis.
Rockmelon – this sweet melon is also known as cantaloupe or musk melon. It has sweet, juicy, orange-coloured flesh.
Fresh basil leaves – add flavour and colour. This is optional.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – with such a simple recipe, it is important to use the best ingredients. Extra virgin olive oil has great flavour and nutritional benefits.
Freshly ground black pepper – a few grinds of black pepper enhance the melon flavour whilst adding a touch of spice.
Step by step instructions:
- To begin, thoroughly wash your melon to remove any dirt and possible bacteria. Peel the rockmelon/cantaloupe and remove the seeds as per detailed instructions in the recipe. Cut the rockmelon in half. Store half of the rockmelon in an airtight container in the fridge for another use.
- With the other half of the melon, cut into quarters and each quarter into 4 wedges.
- Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each wedge of melon. Arrange on a serving platter.
- Stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll up and slice them finely. Scatter across the top of the melon. Top with freshly grated black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.
Tips for success and FAQs:
As always, when a dish is as simple as this one, good quality ingredients are essential. Choose a good quality prosciutto, such as Prosciutto di Parma from Italy. Ask for it to be thinly sliced. To enhance the flavours of the Melon and Prosciutto, use extra virgin olive oil.
To choose a rockmelon/cantaloupe, look for one that is heavy for its size. It should be firm and free of blemishes. Rockmelons have a texture on their skin known as “netting” and the netting should be even, without any bare patches. Avoid those with soft spots as this can be a sign that the fruit is deteriorating. Avoid very green melons as this is an indication that they are not ripe. Press gently on the flower end of the melon; when ripe, it should give a little and ideally, it should have a deep, sweet aroma. However, these days not all varieties have a fragrance.
A good deli will know how to slice and package it. It should be sliced paper-thin, with the slices placed on paper, slightly overlapping each other. If stacked on top of each other, you will not be able to neatly separate them. Layers should be separated by sheets of non-stick paper.
You can prepare the melon and prosciutto wedges 2 – 3 hours in advance. Put them on a plate, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate so they don’t dry out. Do not add the olive oil, basil and black pepper until you are ready to serve. Remove them from the fridge shortly before serving to slightly remove the chill.
If you want to do some preparation further in advance, you can peel, de-seed the melon and cut it into serving wedges. You can do this 24 hours in advance. Place in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to assemble.
At a drinks party, I like to serve finger food or one bite food. Therefore, I recommend that you cut the melon into bite-size pieces and wrap it with prosciutto. Secure with a cocktail stick and place on a pretty platter. It’s easy to serve and easy to eat. Have a small dish available for the discarded cocktail sticks.
More delicious recipes for you to try:
Here are some more of our favourite easy appetisers – perfect for entertaining or a relaxed evening at home.
- Baked Feta with Olives
- Marinated Parmesan Cheese
- Herbed Bread Dipping Oil
- Whipped Ricotta with Tomatoes
- Burrata and Prosciutto
This is a versatile dish that is ideal for family meals or perfect for entertaining. It can be served as an appetiser or starter; just put the prosciutto-wrapped melon on a large platter and let guests help themselves. As well, it is easily transported to potlucks or picnics.
Enjoy this delicious dish – one of my favourites!
Prosciutto and Melon (Prosciutto e Melone)
- 1/2 rockmelon/cantaloupe See Note 1
- 125 g (4.5 oz) prosciutto di Parma – thinly sliced (about 8 large slices)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil See Note 2
- 10 large basil leaves – optional
- freshly ground black pepper – to taste
For accuracy, we recommend weighing your ingredients. This will produce the best results.
- For a whole melon, thoroughly wash the skin to remove any dirt, pesticides and possible bacteria. You may feel that this step is not necessary as you will be peeling the melon. However, as you cut the melon skin, any dirt or bacteria will be transferred by the knife to the flesh. For safe food preparation, it is an important step.
- Begin by cutting off both ends of the melon, the stem end and the opposite end which is the blossom end. This ensures that you have a flat, stable base to cut the melon. Stand the melon on its end, and using a large, sharp knife, in a downward motion, follow the natural curve of the melon and remove the peel. Continue around the melon, trying to not remove too much of the orange flesh.
- When you’ve finished, if you still have some green strips, use your knife to remove them. Now, you can cut your melon in half. Leave it sitting on its flat base and cut down through the centre.Use a dessert spoon to scoop out the seeds and membrane and discard.
- Place one half in an airtight container or cover well with cling wrap and refrigerate for another use. Store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Alternatively, cut the melon into cubes and freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 6 months. Be sure to label and date the container as it is often difficult to identify frozen items. Now, cut the remaining half crossways into halves and cut each half lengthways so you have 4 pieces. Cut each piece into 4 wedges.
- Cut each slice of prosciutto in half and wrap around a wedge of melon.Arrange on a serving platter. (See Note 3)
- Stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll up and slice them finely. Scatter across the top of the melon.
- Top with freshly grated black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately with crusty bread if you wish.
- This recipe uses a half rockmelon/cantaloupe. However, my preference is to buy a whole melon so I can thoroughly wash the skin before cutting it and use the remaining half for another purpose.
- In Australia, the tablespoon is 20 ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons. Please adjust your measurement if necessary.
- You can prepare the Prosciutto and Melon wedges to this stage 2 hours in advance. Put on a platter and cover well with cling wrap. Shortly before serving them, remove from the fridge to slightly reduce the chill and proceed with the remaining steps as you are ready to serve.
Please note, the nutritional information is an estimate only, and is derived from online calculators. For accurate results, we recommend calculating the nutritional information based on the ingredients you use.