“There aren’t many vegetables you can describe as being adorable” stated a colleague this morning as he revealed some gooseberry-like fruits in a plastic container in his lunch box. I took a closer look and discovered that they looked more like mini-watermelons – and he was right, these are some of the most beautiful little vegetables I’ve yet seen.
The cucumbery likeness means they pickle well with mint and dill, as in this post. The taste of lime means that you could try adding them to a lime-based cocktail – either a mojito or a caipirinha and they would certainly make the cocktail look more interesting. Apparently they also go very well with dark chocolate – I haven’t tried that, but I can imagine it might be wonderful.
But I really like their taste and I think both the above uses might overpower them. I think they taste good on their own, but I invented a canapé, topping a piece of warm, toasted bread with some cream cheese, finely sliced cucamelon, finely sliced spring onion, and agarve or maple syrup… or bitter honey to counterbalance the slight bitterness of the mini melon.
The scientific name for the cucamelon is Melothria scabra and it comes from Latin America where it is also known as sandita (little melon) or mouse melon or pepquino. My colleague was given his by his father who grows them, and the good news is that they are not difficult to grow. The plant is a vine, which can be grown as a perennial, and will manage in a temperate climate. For hints on how to grown them follow this link.
If you aren’t a gardener they are available via Koppert Cress.
Recipe for cucamelon canapé
For each one
- One small piece of bread – enough for two bits
- A walnut of butter
- 1 tbsp cream cheese – Philadelphia is fine
- 1 cucamelon
- A few rounds of very finely sliced spring onion
- A little salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp maple syrup (the dark grades have more flavour – click here to find out why) or agave syrup, or bitter honey (either chestnut or Sardinian).
- Toast the bread, and spread with butter
- Spread over the cream cheese
- Cut a few rounds of very finely sliced spring onion
- Top and tail the cucamelon and finely slice – arrange on top
- Drizzle over the syrup or honey
This post is dedicated to David Syckelmoore