When did fruit salad become fruit salad? You know the one, with pineapple hunks, kiwi chunks, squished blueberries, and sad strawberries. This is a savory alternative that I like a lot better. Instead of cleaning out the produce aisle, buy just one ingredient—and make it good—say, that heavy cantaloupe that smells like honey at the stem. And instead of dressing up something sweet with more sweet, opt for meaty or salty or spicy or tangy. Or better yet, all of the above. Here, that means oven-crisped salami, pickled pepperoncini (shout-out to their brine, which turns into a stupid-easy vinaigrette), and wrinkly olives. This would be a welcome side at any backyard cookout, but I’d just as gladly call it a meal in itself.
- Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Stack the salami and use a knife to score around the perimeter in four places (imagine 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 8 o’clock, and 10 o’clock); this prevents puffing in the oven. Spread the salami slices on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, until crisp.
- While that’s in the oven, remove the cantaloupe’s skin and seeds, then chop into bite-size chunks. Add these to a bowl along with the pepperoncini, ¼ cup (60ml) pepperoncini brine, and the olives. Toss, taste, and add more brine if you want.
- When the salami is done, transfer the slices to a plate to cool. If there’s rendered fat on the baking sheet, use a heatproof, flexible spatula to swoosh it onto the cantaloupe salad and toss to combine. Transfer the salad to a platter or individual plates, then crumble the salami on top.