Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto

The most refreshing salad EVER!

A big bowl of refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect summer salad!

Seriously, if you’re in need of some hydration in your life (and I know at least all us Californians do after this heat wave we’ve been having) then this Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto is going to be your saving grace right now.


Let me tell you, we are soooo lucky that our landlord was kind enough to install A/C for us about a year ago because, judging by all my CA friends’ social media posts, every store that sells fans is completely sold out and people are sweltering in the near 100-degree heat. This does not sound like one ounce of fun to me (especially being pregnant,) so this is my open invitation to all of my overheating friends to come over and enjoy some Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto in our comfortably 75-degree little duplex!

But seriously, even if you’re not close enough to come over, you’ve GOT to get some of this salad in your life stat. Don’t get me wrong, I love a delicious classic caprese salad with that creamy mozzarella and alllll the fresh tomatoes and basil, but sometimes I just want to mix it up and swapping in the watermelon for the tomatoes is just the perfect little change (but not too much of a change) to really wow people the first time you serve it up.

A close-up shot of delicious Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect no-cook salad for summer!

And the prosciutto…Oh, the prosciutto! Okay, it’s no secret that I love the stuff, and it has that perfect saltiness (and extra protein) to really give this dish the ultimate flavor trifecta AND pass as a complete meal. I gave the prosciutto a quick spin in a saute pan to heat it up and therefore make it “pregnancy-safe,” but if you’re not expecting you can just throw it in as-is, straight from the package. Or, if you’re a vegetarian, simply omit the prosciutto and you’ll still be more than pleased with the taste. Pinky promise.

So how long will it be until you can get this Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto whipped up and ready to serve on your kitchen table? Approximately 10 minutes. No joke. There’s no cooking involved, so the most time-consuming thing about this recipe might just be chopping up the watermelon into bite-size chunks.

A single serving of Watermelon Caprese Salad with Crispy Prosciutto from CaliGirlCooking.com.

And, if you haven’t refrigerated your uncut watermelon ahead of time, you may want to give the salad a little bit of time to chill out before serving. It’s totally worth it for how much more refreshing it will make it!

I don’t know about you, but all this talking about my new favorite “salad” is making me want to whip up another batch this weekend. We’re hanging out in town again, and planning on fully enjoying the summer weather with some beach time and maybe a barbecue or two.

What are your plans for the first “official” weekend of summer?!? Making some Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto, I hope?

A bowl of this refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto is the perfect light meal for summer!

A big bowl of refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect summer salad!
Print
Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This fun take on the classic caprese salad is full of refreshing watermelon and bites of salty prosciutto. The perfect dish for warm weather entertaining!

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Salad, Snack
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 mini seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 12 ounces ciliegine (mini mozzarella balls)
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 5 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Drizzle of balsamic glaze
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients except the balsamic glaze to a large bowl and toss to combine. 

  2. If watermelon was not pre-chilled before cutting, place salad in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 

  3. Before serving, drizzle on balsamic glaze and garnish with whole basil leaves, if desired.

Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto | CaliGirlCooking.com

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter

Comin’ at ya with the most delicious non-recipe recipe today!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m calling it right now: Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platters may just become summer’s “it” entertaining item. Because, I mean, when it’s sunny and 75 degrees out, who doesn’t want a plate piled high with pineapple, papaya, kiwis and allllllll the cheese?


Now, I know what you may be thinking: “Ick, how does tropical fruit and CHEESE pair well together?” Well that, my friends, is all in the cheese. You see, I take my job as a food blogger very seriously and would never want to lead you astray, so I was sure to taste multiple cheese and tropical fruit combinations before I settled on the ones you see here. True, there are some pairings that just don’t work, but hey, there are a lot of pairings that do and I’ve taken all of the hassle of figuring that out off of your shoulders and come up with some fantastic pairings that will make your next Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day or Memorial Day get-together to the next level.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

I actually came up with the idea for this Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter last October, when my dad and I took a “business” trip to Oahu, which essentially entailed us eating our way through the island for a week. If you’re in tune with the Oahu restaurant scene at all, then you’ll be no stranger to local celebrity chef Ed Kenney’s restaurants that have been making waves (haha, pun intended) all through Honolulu over the past 10 years or so. We ate at three of his four restaurants while we were there (and only skipped the fourth one because we had eaten there multiple times when I lived there) and were duly impressed by each one. Be sure to check out my Travel Diaries: Honolulu post for more deets on all of those, but right now I want to tell you all about the basket cheese we had at one of these said restaurants, Mud Hen Water.

We were able to talk my aunt and uncle into joining us for this dinner, which was all the better since everything is served family style and this way we could order double the amount of dishes to share. I was immediately intrigued by their menu offering of “Homemade Basket Cheese” so we decided to give it a shot. What was delivered to our table just moments later was a soft, ricotta-like cheese served with a multitude of fresh tropical fruits and, let me tell you, my mind was blown.

Up until that point, I had only thought that grapes, apples, apricots and the like were acceptable to be served with cheese, but boy was I proven wrong. The creamy, mellowness of the basket cheese paired perfectly with the mango and papaya that were served alongside it, and it immediately got the food blogger wheels churning in my head about what other types of cheeses might pair well with what are some of my favorite genre of fruits.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Of course, Hawaii has the luxury of a tropical climate (and plenty of local fruit) year round, but I decided to wait until the weather started warming up a bit again here on the mainland before giving my Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter a shot for this here blog. With temperatures in the high 70’s/low 80’s expected for us in Santa Barbara this weekend, and so many fun holidays right around the corner, I figured what better time to finalize this idea on paper! (Er, I mean on screen.)

So here’s what I ended up discovering in my in-depth research of the perfect tropical fruit and cheese pairings: Any of the mild, soft ricotta-like cheeses are a DREAM pairing for allll the tropical fruits. Especially if you add a little honey! I took some creamy mascarpone I had sitting in the refrigerator and sweetened it up a little, and let me just say you’re lucky I saved some to photograph because I could have very easily sat there and eaten the whole bowl with my pineapple and papaya spears.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Sticking with the creamy theme, I also found that a good, simple goat cheese is a great pairing for most tropical fruits. It adds a simple tang (much like unsweetened or Greek yogurt would) without overwhelming the fruit with too much funk or contrasting flavors.

The only hard cheese that made the cut in my taste test was a basque cheese I picked up from Trader Joe’s. It has just a touch of funk, but not so much that it fights with the other flavors on the platter. It’s fairly mild compared to some other hard cheeses, and the slight saltiness is a great contrast to the sweetness of the fruit.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Some other small touches that I found make a big difference that you may not think of:

Papaya is an interesting fruit, and can be fairly one-dimensional and almost a bit musty tasting at times. I find that a squeeze of fresh lime juice over top really transforms the flavor palate so be sure to serve some lime wedges on your platter for people to add as needed.

Of course another typical component you see on most traditional fruit and cheese platters is some sort of nut. This adds a crunchy and often salty element to the mix to contrast all of the sweet- and savory-ness. In sticking with the tropical theme, I added some macadamia nuts to the platter which added the perfect finishing touch.

And that’s it, folks! Really, the only “cooking” involved in this super easy party dish is stirring some honey into the mascarpone and plopping it into a bowl. Easy as that! Now, as I mentioned, we’ve got Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and a whole summer of entertaining ahead of us, so start scoping out the best tropical fruit you can find and get to making this to-die-for Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Tropical fruits are paired with a delicious selection of cheeses, honey and macadamia nuts - perfect for your next warm weather get-together!

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
Assorted tropical fruits, such as:
  • Pineapple spears
  • Papaya spears
  • Sliced kiwis
  • Mango slices
  • Lime wedges
Honeyed Mascarpone:
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Other ingredients:
  • Creamy goat cheese
  • Basque cheese
  • Macadamia nuts
Instructions
  1. Make the honeyed mascarpone by combining the two ingredients in a small serving bowl.

  2. Arrange all ingredients on a large platter and serve!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platter

I bet you’d never imagine the words “best ever” in front of the words “vegetable platter,” but today I’m here to rock your world and prove to you that this is an incredibly appropriate statement.

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platte | CaliGirlCooking.com

That’s right, I’m going to show you not only a vibrant array of winter vegetables (that don’t need to be cooked before enjoying) but TWO life-changing dipping sauces that are not only incredibly tasty, but VEGAN to boot. Hummus and queso, step aside. My Garlicky Cauliflower Almond Butter Dip and Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce are going to change your life.


But, before I get to these super-duper recipes, let’s talk a bit about a very important food event that’s coming up this weekend. Yes, I just referred to the Super Bowl as a food event as opposed to a sporting event, because when there isn’t really a specific team you’re rooting for, your focus turns directly to the snacks (and drinks!) that are being served. Am I right? It’s basically an excuse to make all of the delicious things (usually not so healthy) that you’ve been dreaming about since last year’s Super Bowl.

The good news is, this Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platter is both healthy AND delicious, and will satisfy all of your guests, no matter their dietary restrictions or preferences. This dish is both vegan and gluten-free, but even those who don’t follow either of these diets will find it a welcome healthy munch among all of the other not-so-healthy foods you might be serving (and have no fear, I have a not-so-healthy Super Bowl-friendly recipe coming to you on Wednesday – because we’re all about that balance, baby!)

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platte | CaliGirlCooking.com

So let’s talk about how I came up with the ideas for the Garlicky Cauliflower Almond Butter Dip and Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce that grace this Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platter. You might recall that back in November I took a little trip to Wine Country with my gal Hana-Lee from Wander & Wine. During that trip, we were lucky enough to grab dinner at Press Restaurant in St. Helena.

While we were waiting for the first of our many dishes to arrive at the table, we were surprised with a large galvanized metal tray, with little veggie tops popping out of a bed of crushed ice. (We later found out that these cute little veggies came straight from the farm that Press has partnered with to provide all of its produce…Amazing!) Surrounding the tray were five little bowls of dipping sauces, and we were told to try our hand at all of the different vegetable and dip combinations. It was basically a vegetarian version of shrimp cocktail, genius!

Among all of the combinations I tried, one really stood out to me: fresh fennel bulb dipped into Press’ version of Thai peanut sauce. It was so dang good it was all I could think of even as we ate all of the other delicious dishes we ordered. I have to admit, the fennel and Thai peanut is a flavor combination I would have NEVER thought of, but it was amazing. I immediately added it to my list of flavor combos to try on my own at home.

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platter Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m not quite so sure how I came up with the idea for my Garlicky Cauliflower Almond Butter Sauce, but I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making a Creamy Cauliflower Sauce a la Pinch of Yum for quite some time. I guess I figured almond butter would be a natural, delicious addition, along with some other spices and of course loads of garlic.

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platter Garlicky Cauliflower Almond Butter Sauce | CaliGirlCooking.com

Once I had my sauces down, I knew I had to get some hearty, beautiful vegetables to stand up to their deliciousness. Fennel was a shoe-in, and after perusing the seasonal produce section at Trader Joe’s I decided on some beautiful rainbow carrots, crunchy radishes and slightly bitter Belgian endive to round out the tray. Not only were all of these vegetables just perfect with BOTH of the sauces, they also make a beautiful display that whoever you’re entertaining will not be able to keep their hands off of.

The great thing about this Best EVER Vegetable Platter is you can prep both of the sauces well in advance (up to three days.) The Garlicky Cauliflower Almond Butter Sauce makes a HUGE batch, so you’ll likely have a bunch leftover, but I highly recommend you take advantage of this by using it as a dairy-free creamy pasta sauce. Once you have the dipping sauces made, all that’s left if to find the freshest winter produce you can and use your food styling skills to really make your platter pop.

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Whether you whip this up for Super Bowl or not, it’s the perfect recipe to have in your arsenal for any time you’re entertaining a crowd with health concerns or varied dietary preferences. Make it now, make it later, doesn’t matter as long as you give it a shot as soon as you can!

5 from 1 vote
Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platte | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platter
Prep Time
50 mins
 

A classic vegetable platter gets a winter makeover with seasonal produce and two creamy, vegan dipping sauces. 

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the Garlicky Cauliflower Almond Butter Dip:
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 7 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 medium head of cauliflower)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash of cayenne
For the Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce:
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or agave nectar)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek
For the platter:
  • 6-8 rainbow carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
  • 6-8 radishes, tops removed and cut into halves or quarters
  • 2 bunches Belgian endive (bonus if you can find one purple and one green bunch)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut into sticks
Instructions
To make the Garlicky Cauliflower Almond Butter Dip:
  1. Bring a large pot of water with 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Once water is boiling, add cauliflower and garlic cloves and cook until cauliflower is fork tender, about 6 minutes. 

  2. Using a slotted spoon or small sieve, scoop out the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves and place in a blender. Reserve cooking water.

  3. Add almond butter, almond milk, white balsamic, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne and salt and pepper to blender. Turn blender on low and slowly add ¾ - 1 cup of the reserved cooking water, until the mixture has reached a creamy consistency. Transfer to a resealable container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving, or up to three days.

To make the Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce:
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, honey, hot water and sambal oelek. Transfer to a resealable container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving, or up to three days.

To assemble the platter:
  1. Place dipping sauces in two small bowls and place in center of platter. Surround with all of the vegetables and serve immediately.

Best EVER Winter Vegetable Platter | CaliGirlCooking.com

Spicy Beet Poke

Reinventing the wheel right here ↓

Spicy Beet Poke | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, I have to admit that this wasn’t my own inventive idea, but I do have to say I’m pretty darn excited that I’ve created my own version to enjoy WHENEVER I want. Spicy Beet Poke is going to be my jam for the foreseeable future.


I first tasted Beet Poke at Mud Hen Water on my trip to Honolulu in November. As soon as I took a bite, I kicked myself for not having thought of this idea myself. Basically, we’re talking all of the delicious flavors that go into making the classic ahi poke, but subbing in this hearty, sweet root vegetable instead of the fish. The version I had at Mud Hen Water was dressed as classic ahi poke is, but me being the heat-lover that I am, I had to go ahead and spice it up a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love good old Spicy Poke with fresh ahi just as much (or more) than the next gal, but I love it soooo much that sometimes I think I should cool it on my raw ahi intake (or drink a ton of green tea to counteract the mercury!) I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, balance is the key.

Spicy Beet Poke | CaliGirlCooking.com

P.S. Did you know my Spicy Poke Bowls are the number one pinned recipe on Pinterest??

This is also a great alternative for those who either (a) do not like or (b) cannot eat raw fish. I’m all about finding alternative versions of dishes that everyone can enjoy!

Plus, did I mention how healthy this Spicy Beet Poke is? Beets are chock full of Vitamin C, potassium and folate, and the dressing is incredibly light yet super flavorful. We use sesame oil and soy sauce, and feel free to use low-sodium soy if you’re watching your sodium intake. For the spice, we throw in some sambal oelek (aka Korean chili paste), and of course we need to add in the classic sliced green onions and white sesame seeds, for both great color AND flavor.

Spicy Beet Poke | CaliGirlCooking.com

In other words, this is the PERFECT dish for kicking off your New Year’s healthy eating resolutions on the right foot. And, if you roast the beets ahead of time, it comes together in less than 10 minutes flat. Healthy AND quick, how about that?

We’re heading back from Lake Tahoe today and, although it was so fun spending such quality time with our parents, I’m excited to get back home and get back into my routine again. I’m also working on my goals and content for 2017, so please let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see more of here at CaliGirl Cooking for the New Year.

Have a great rest of the week and I’ll see you on Friday with a “healthy” cocktail recipe!

Spicy Beet Poke | CaliGirlCooking.com

Spicy Beet Poke | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Spicy Beet Poke
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

A vegan take on the classic Hawaiian ahi poke, with beets taking place of the fish and a spicy kick that will keep you coming back for more!

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 medium beets, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (or sriracha)
  • Seaweed salad, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place beets on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil and drizzle on olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss a bit to combine. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the beets with a fork. Remove and place in refrigerator until cold to the touch, at least 30 minutes.

  2. Remove the cold beets from the refrigerator and cut into cubes. Place in a medium mixing bowl. Add green onions, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil and sambal oelek and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with seaweed salad. This dish is best served cold.

Spicy Beet Poke | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

It’s so healthy you can eat the whole thing!!

Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread

Because today I’m all about keeping it quick, simple and super tasty.

Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m currently running on just a few hours of sleep after catching the earliest flight possible back from Quebec City yesterday so I could make it to our annual Holiday Boat Parade. Quebec City was AMAZING and I am so excited to tell you all about it and show you all of the pictures. We snowshoed, spa-ed, visited the Christmas markets and froze our little tushies off (hello 14-degree weather!) Stay tuned for another Travel Diaries post soon.


Even though I had the best time, because we only had five days there we were going the entire time, always on the move trying to squeeze everything in. I can’t wait to sleep, sleep and sleep some more so, until then, about all the strength I can muster is to tell you about the deliciousness that is this Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread.

This recipe was inspired by a brunch the hubs and I had at SY Kitchen in Santa Ynez way back in June. We’re somewhat of hot sauce fiends, so naturally we asked for some to go with our eggs. Instead of the classic Tapatio or Tabasco, our waiter brought us a small bowl of a fiery red condiment and informed us that this was the only hot sauce they served there. We took one bite and immediately had to ask what the secret ingredient was. Turns out it was Calabrian chili peppers!

Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread | CaliGirlCooking.com

I love Calabrian chili peppers because they are so much more than just a spicy pepper. They originated in Italy (no wonder they’re delicious) and have a whole other dimension than your average pepper. Your mouth isn’t just hit with a wave of heat, there’s actually flavor in there that makes you keep wanting to come back for more.

After doing a little bit of research on how I could get my hands on some Calabrian chilies, I found that I could both order them on Amazon and also found them at the fantastic high-end grocery store where we stay when we go up to Napa. Although there are plenty of dried Calabrian chili options, I went for those packed in oil so I wouldn’t have to go through the extra step of rehydrating them before pureeing them into this Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread. Of course, if you can only find the dried ones, simply soak them in some warm water for a few hours (or overnight) before using.

The brand of Calabrian chilies packed in oil that I used still had the stems attached, so I simply cut those off when pulling them out of the jar. Aside from the chilies themselves, the only ingredients you’ll need are some fresh olive oil and peeled, whole garlic cloves. I suppose you could use the oil that the chilies come packed in, but I thought it might make the spice just a bit too intense. If you REALLY don’t mind spicy, then I say go for it!

Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread | CaliGirlCooking.com

All you have to do to make this Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread come to life is throw the above-mentioned ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender and puree until that smooth, spreadable, aromatic paste forms.

Once it’s made, the spread will last for up to a month in the refrigerator and will turn into your go-to condiment for any breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner that could use that extra-spicy kick.

I’m going to keep this short today so I can continue recuperating from my travels, but trust me when I say you’ll be doing yourself a HUGE favor if you make this Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread ASAP. Hot sauce lovers unite!

Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

A ridiculously simple recipe for the best hot sauce/spread/spicy condiment you'll ever taste, with only three ingredients!

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Calabrian chilies (preferably those packed in oil) Stems removed
  • 3 whole cloves garlic Peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine all three ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse until a smooth paste forms. Keep in a Tupperware or resealable glass jar for up to one month in the refrigerator. 

Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Gimme allll the hot sauce!

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