Sep 202019
Heirloom Tomato and Cantaloupe Melon Salad

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Here’s one last hurrah for summer, juicy melon and tangy tomatoes mixed with basil and walnuts for a light side salad. This heirloom tomato and cantaloupe melon salad with a balsamic reduction is great for appreciating the last few days of summer.

Well let’s be honest, I have a few more summery recipes: California tends to take a little longer to hit fall than everywhere else. This summer hasn’t lasted as long as last year – there was rain into May and we’ve even had a few cooler evenings already. And since I know there are others near me still with the plethora of summer produce you’ll get the recipes anyway. The rest of you can just plan for next summer!

ingredients for tomato and melon salad on cutting board

Working with Pioneer Taproom (the reason I’ve been a bit absent) has introduced me to even more of the local wine and produce growers. In particular one of the family from Tenbrink Vineyards has been bringing us some of their extra produce (other than their wine grapes) for me to play with. Since they produce several specialty varieties of peppers, tomatoes, and stone fruits for fancy restaurants in San Francisco, I’ve had some fun.

Spoon with reduced balsamic
The consistency the balsamic should be when you reduce it.

This week there were some heirloom tomatoes in the box they brought. Not enough to do anything for the taproom, but just perfect for a couple batches of inventive salad with the melons I picked up at my favourite Robledo’s produce stand. In these pictures I used sprite melon (I’d never heard of it either until I started trying to find the variety for this post), but it is very similar in flavour to cantaloupe which I have also tried in the salad. But anything earthy and sweet will balance nicely.

Tomato and melon salad with wine
So I actually paired this with a GV Cellars sauvignon blanc (recently featured in Forbes!) with lots of tropical fruity flavours rather then a Tenbrink wine, but that was what I had in the house. And it was just perfect.

Not shown in these pictures is a great idea I came up with after taking all the pictures (that part where I eat whatever I was photographing for supper). But since this is rather a light salad, I needed to make it a little heartier – so I added some ricotta I had made a couple days ago with milk that was about to go bad. Usually I make yogurt if I have this problem with milk (higher yield) but I haven’t been eating much yogurt (even if I make labne). So… ricotta!

Side shot of tomato and melon salad

But if you’re vegan, I assure you it isn’t any less without the ricotta. The walnuts (also local, yay!) add some depth and protein and the reduced balsamic (occasionally called balsamic glaze or balsamic cream) a nice tang. Enjoy the last of your summer produce!

Overhead view of tomato and melon salad with a glass of wine

Heirloom Tomato and Cantalope Salad

Course Salad, Side Dish
Keyword basil, melon, tomatoes, walnut


  • 2 c/375g diced melon 1 – 1 ½” pieces
  • ¾ lb/325g small heirloom tomatoes
  • ¼ c/10g basil leaves
  • ¾ c/75g walnut halves toasted
  • ½ c/120ml balsamic vinegar 2 tbs balsamic glaze
  • ground pepper
  • sea salt


  • In a small sauce pan on low heat, reduce balsamic vinegar by ¾ until it lightly coats a spoon (it will get thicker as it cools).
  • Coarsely chop walnuts and set aside. Chiffon basil leaves into ribbons.
  • Cut tomatoes into ¼’s or 1/8ths depending on size. They should be about the same size as the melon pieces.
  • Toss all ingredients and garnish with ground pepper and sea salt to taste.

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