Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad -- #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: What do you do when you have a ripe cantaloupe, a pot overflowing with basil, and an herb garden where mint has taken over? Invent a new salad, of course!

This combo turned out to be perfect for a warm summer evening. You can certainly change out the herbs, based on what’s overflowing your garden pots and plots. Either the mint or basil could stand alone, and oregano would be nice, too. If you use a slicing cucumber, peel it; if you use an English cucumber, peeling isn’t necessary but peeling in strips will be pretty. We made this with both champagne vinegar and citrus champagne vinegar; we preferred the citrus version. I’ve used both O and Trader Joe’s citrus champagne vinegar and slightly prefer TJ’s, but O is easier for us to get. Use what you have and enjoy. 

One challenge in inventing a recipe is that you don’t know what’s going to end up in it, so the ingredients photo shows one spice I didn’t use and omits an ingredient I added as I chopped, poured, and stirred. This is real life food!

Serve by itself or on a bed of greens. Remember that the herbs will wilt in the fridge so it won’t be as pretty the next day, but it will still be yummy—in fact, as the flavors in the dressing meld, they become even better the second day.

Bon Appetit!

Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad

½ medium cantaloupe, cut in ½" chunks or balls

1 cucumber (slicer or English), cut in half rounds, 1/4" thick

10-12 basil leaves, cut in ribbons 

5-6 mint leaves, cut in ribbons

1/4 cup crumbled feta


1 tablespoon extra-virgin salad oil

1 teaspoon champagne vinegar or citrus champagne vinegar, or more to taste

½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the melon, cucumber, basil and mint. Add the feta. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Pour over salad and stir gently; adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve by itself or on a bed of greens.

Serves 4. 

From the cover of BITTERROOT LAKE, written as Alicia Beckman (Crooked Lane Books; available in hardcover, ebook, and audio): 

When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman's suspense debut.

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah's guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she's a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she's greeted by an old friend--and by news of a murder that's clearly tied to that tragic day she'll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by her website and subscribe to her seasonal newsletter, for a chat about the writing life, what she's working on, and  what she's reading -- and a free short story. And join her on Facebook where she shares book news and giveaways from her writer friends, and talks about food, mysteries, and the things that inspire her.


  1. That sounds like a fantastic combination, Leslie!

  2. A clever creation.
    What is "O"?

    1. O is a popular brand of vinegars and olive oils. https://www.ooliveoil.com/ They are readily available here, far from Trader Joe's, quite affordable, and I've become a fan.

    2. I meant to say that WE are far from Trader Joe's -- none in the state so we only get to one if we happen to be in Washington!