Oh, man. I sampled this antipasto course at Ca’Mea Ristorante the other evening, and it made me swoon. Mr. Fox loved it too, as evidenced by the fact that he kept sneaking his spoon into my bowl. And what’s not to love about a puree of cantaloupe that’s punched up with cider gastrique and topped off with burrata cheese? I couldn’t wait to make the same French-Italian deliciousness right in my own kitchen.
What’s Cider Gastrique? Well, in its most basic form, it’s a sweet-and-sour condiment made with just honey, apple cider vinegar, and a dash of salt. It’s totally delicious on cantaloupe and other fruits, not to mention grilled chicken and pork. Savvy chefs have gastrique on hand at all times. It stores well in the refrigerator.
Cider gastrique is the only part of this recipe that requires a stove:
To start, fearlessly fling 1/2 cup honey into a small saucepan…
And cook it (without stirring) over medium-low heat, until it turns dark amber in color — about 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar…
And continue to cook, swirling the pan from time to time, until the mixture reduces to a thin syrup — about 15 minutes.
Off heat, stir in a pinch of salt. Then transfer the condiment to a glass jar, and let it cool while you prepare the cantaloupe puree.
Make-ahead note: Cider Gastrique will stay fresh and wonderful for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Mercifully, a puree of cantaloupe comes together in just 5 minutes:
Take a large, organic cantaloupe (weighing 4 1/2 to 5 pounds)…
And seed, peel, and cut the melon into rough 1-inch cubes.
Put 1/3 of the melon cubes into the jar of an electric blender…
Add the juice of 1 devilishly-handsome lime…
And blitz the works at high speed until pulverized and frothy. Then pulverize the remaining melon. Do this in batches if your blender isn’t particularly powerful.
Next, add some kosher salt (3/4 teaspoon for me), and blitz the machine again, just to mix in the salt.
Taste carefully — you might like to add more salt.
Tip the puree into a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until serving time.
Voila! It’s serving time.
Divide the puree between 4 soup plates or shallow bowls…
And place a luxurious hunk of burrata cheese atop each serving.
Never tried burrata? Then today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Drizzle the cider gastrique over both the burrata and the cantaloupe puree. (You can make nifty designs with your gastrique if you first put it in a squeeze bottle.)
To finish, lightly dust the burrata with freshly-ground black pepper.
This soup makes a fast — and unusual — first course or luncheon dish. Do me proud and give it a try, okay?
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Here’s the printable: