Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto

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! 

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

The most refreshing salad EVER! 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!

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
Cuisine: American
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

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer

Spring has officially sprung!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

And that means it’s time to start eating (and drinking) alllll the strawberries. This Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer is going to make you want to jump head first into the season and never look back. It’s soooo tasty!

First, important question: Are you pro- or anti-gin?? My friends and I were having this discussion at my little birthday get-together the other week and two of them just absolutely can’t stand the taste of gin. I am staunchly in the other camp, because gin just happens to be one of my favorite liquors. I love how flavorful and botanical it is, and I feel like it adds so much more character to any beverage.

I would like to point out, though, that one of these friends that was so anti-gin had mentioned that she’d enjoyed a farm-fresh cocktail at one of our local bars that involved gin, and had actually loved it because the flavors were so perfectly balanced. I haven’t had her taste this Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer yet, but I bet she’ll feel the same way she did about that farm-fresh cocktail once she does!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, so enough of the gin discussion, let’s talk strawberries. We are incredibly lucky here in Santa Barbara because we live smack dab in the middle of strawberry country. We have Oxnard, home of the California Strawberry Festival, just 45 minutes south of us, and Watsonville, home of Driscoll’s Strawberries, just three and a half hours north of us. Because of this, we always have tons of farm fresh strawberry options available both at our grocery stores and in our farmer’s markets once March rolls around.

That being said, I realize all of you might not be as “strawberry lucky” as we are, but that’s the great thing about this Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer. You don’t have to be! This drink gets most of its strawberry flavor from strawberry jam, with just a few fresh strawberries muddled in for good measure. And, honestly, you could even use thawed frozen strawberries and nobody would know the difference.

You will, however, need to track down some fresh basil, but I’m pretty sure fresh basil is available year round these days so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

The most important step, of course, is to use your favorite gin! There are many different flavors and styles out there, so if you don’t have a favorite already, do yourself a favor and taste a few to get a feel for what you like. There are gins that are more juniper-forward, others that are more foral…Every gin brand uses its own combination of aromatics and spices, so even if you don’t like, say, Tanqueray, you might like Hendrick’s!

Once you have your fresh strawberries, strawberry jam, basil and gin, your Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer will come together in less than five minutes. Grab your cocktail shaker, some ice and a glass and you’ll be sipping on this deliciousness in no time!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

The perfect cocktail to kick off spring - in-season strawberries are muddled with fresh basil, topped with a refreshing gin and jam mixture.

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cocktails, drinks, gin, strawberry
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 2 ounces gin
  • More whole strawberries for garnish (if desired)
Instructions
  1. In a rocks glass, muddle the strawberries and basil. 

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with about ¾ cup of ice, combine the strawberry jam and the gin. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds and then pour contents of shaker (including ice) into the rocks glass.

  3. Garnish with a fresh strawberry if desired.

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese

A sweet, salty and savory two-cheese grilled cheese featuring the fresh peaches and basil, mozzarella and crumbly bleu cheese.

Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese | CaliGirl Cooking

We’re doing this season right with allll of the late summer flavors, and this Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese is helping us get there.

It seems like now that I don’t have wedding planning taking over every spare second of every day, my eyes have finally opened up to all of the beautiful produce that’s abounding at the Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores this summer. I feel so lucky to live in a place that has pretty decent produce available all year round, but there’s something really special and exciting about going out and buying a fruit or vegetable that’s at the peak of its season, fresh off the tree or out of the ground.

For example, you can buy a peach at the store here in California (almost) 365 days a year, but do the December peaches that have likely been shipped from somewhere south of the equator REALLY taste as good as the mid-August peaches that were just plucked from the orchard earlier that day? I think not.Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese | CaliGirl Cooking

That being said, I’ve not only been hoarding figs (as I mentioned in Friday’s post about this Rosemary, Fig & Date Tequila Smash), but I’ve also been hoarding peaches. Big, fat, juicy peaches. And they have been doing me right, let me tell you. So, naturally, my brain has been churning with ideas of how to use them in anything and everything.

Let me back up for a minute before I get into this delicious, indulgent, season-friendly Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese. In case I haven’t filled you in on the latest, the hubs had his Achilles surgery last Monday, so my nurse and TLC duties have been on point for the past week. As we all know, surgery and “going under” take a lot out of you (says the gal who’s gone under for knee surgery oh, just five times.) Not only do you wake up with someone having cut you open somewhere, but often the anesthesiology is just as hard to recover from, making you feel nauseated and icky once you wake up.

My poor man most definitely experienced this, so his appetite was touch-and-go there for a few days. One of the only things that sounded good to him was bread and cheese in any form. So of course I jetted off to our corner bakery to pick up some delicious multigrain bread, and stopped in at our neighborhood TJ’s to grab some cheese. It was on the way home that the light bulb went off in my head. I had peaches on hand, I had basil on hand (stay tuned for another recipe with LOTS of basil!) and now I had delicious bread and cheese on hand. The Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese was born.

Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese | CaliGirl Cooking

In a sense, this sandwich is modeled after a take on the caprese salad, using peaches instead of tomatoes. But of course I had to jazz it up a bit. For the second cheese, I decided to crumble on some pungent, salty bleu cheese to counteract the soft, smooth and buttery taste of the fresh mozzarella. Then, to top it all off, of course I had to drizzle on some honey (because honey + bleu cheese + peaches = HEAVEN.)

Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese | CaliGirl Cooking

Guys. Do yourself a favor here. Go out and buy all of these ingredients ASAP and turn on your griddle. You are NOT going to want to miss this. This Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese is seriously the perfect flavor trifecta. We have the savory, we have the buttery, we have the salty, we have the sweet. Plus, it takes almost no time at all to make! Feeling overwhelmed with kids back in school and no time to get dinner on the table? Make these sammies and have a delicious, late-summer meal on the table in under 20 minutes. Trust me, once you join the Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese club, there’s no turning back.

Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese | CaliGirl Cooking

Honey, Peach & Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
6 mins
Total Time
16 mins
 
A sweet, salty and savory grilled cheese featuring the fresh peaches and basil, mozzarella and crumbly bleu cheese.
Ingredients
  • 2 slices multigrain bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 2.5 ounces sliced yellow peach
  • 8 fresh basil leaves cut in a chiffonade
  • 1 ounce crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1 teaspoon honey
Instructions
  1. Place a griddle, cast iron skillet or sauté pan on the stove over medium-high heat.
  2. Place bread in toaster and toast until lightly golden, then spread butter on one side of each piece of bread.
  3. Placing the buttered side of one slice of bread on a plate, paper towel, or cutting board, start assembling the sandwich. Layer on the mozzarella, sliced peach, basil and bleu cheese (in that order.) Drizzle honey over top of the bleu cheese and then place the other piece of bread on top of the stack, with the buttered side facing up.
  4. Place sandwich on preheated griddle, cast iron skillet or sauté pan and cook for about three minutes, or until bread is golden-brown. Flip over and cook an additional few minutes, letting the second piece of toast brown just like the first piece. You may want to press the sandwich with a spatula every once in a while to make sure all of the cheese melts.
  5. Remove from heat and cut sandwich in half. Serve immediately.

 

Honey, Peach and Basil Two-Cheese Grilled Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

Cheese for life.

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Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep

I have this thing with watermelon.

Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep | CaliGirl Cooking

Especially in the summer (or creeping up on summer) months. To me, there is nothing that symbolizes the sunshine-bathing, water-splashing, outdoor-activity-friendly warmer weather quite like a big, fat, juicy watermelon. It’s refreshing, filling, full of vitamins and minerals, low in calories and incredibly flavorful. We can even call it hydrating with the high water content and small amount of potassium it contains. What’s not to love?

My watermelon fetish for the season has just begun creeping up on me (thank you, Memorial Day Weekend), but I’m already thinking of tons of fun recipe ideas that involve this delicious summer fruit. To start us off, because it’s Friday (and Friday = cocktails here at CaliGirl Cooking), I wanted to start the ball rolling with a tasty, refreshing Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep.

This cocktail recipe was somewhat spur-of-the-moment. I had been working in the kitchen all day, the fiancé had been relaxing and getting various chores done around the house, and we were firing up the grill to make some tri-tip for dinner. I don’t know about you, but in our household grilling = cocktail (or beer) in hand, and I had this delicious mini-watermelon sitting in the refrigerator that I just hadn’t been able to resist picking up at Trader Joe’s.  As I mentioned a little bit ago, our basil plant from last year has magically decided to reappear in our backyard (despite my incredibly black thumb), and this is a very welcome thing when cocktail hour rolls around at our house.

Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep | CaliGirl Cooking

So, I had watermelon and I had basil, then came time to decide on the booze and any other delicious additions. I quickly decided to use bourbon as the alcohol (knowing my future husband’s affinity for it in any way, shape or form – mixed, straight, doesn’t matter!) and, to his credit, he was the one that recommended I add the balsamic. Genius! It adds just the right amount of kick to this otherwise easy-going drink. I would have to recommend, though, that you use the thickest, “glaziest” balsamic vinegar you can find, as the generic stuff might be just a bit too vinegary. We have a stash of the BEST thick, rich balsamic vinegar from a tiny restaurant in Tuscany, but the Balsamic Glaze from Trader Joe’s would also suffice.

The trickiest part of making this cocktail will just be turning your fresh, delicious, juicy watermelon into juice. I used an immersion blender (which worked wonderfully!) but you could also use a regular blender or even a food processor. You’ll definitely want to strain the juice through a sieve afterwards to catch any seeds or thick chunks that didn’t break down in the blending process.

Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep | CaliGirl Cooking

Once you have your fresh watermelon juice (which, btw, I may start making ALL the time because it was so easy) you simply add it to a cocktail shaker with the bourbon, balsamic, and fresh basil. Shake, shake, shake and strain into a glass filled about ¾ of the way with ice, and you have yourself a cocktail! We opted out of it (there wasn’t enough room in our glasses) but you could also top the cocktails off with a splash of club soda, to give the drink a little fizz. Either way, this is an incredibly delicious cocktail. It is so tasty you won’t even realize you’re drinking all that bourbon!

This recipe will definitely be on constant repeat in our household this summer. I imagine it will become a go-to for us any time we’re entertaining guests, or even if we’re just making a simple dinner in after a long day at the beach. We have my parents staying with us this weekend, and I can guarantee we will be whipping up one or two of these for them before we head to the Paul Simon concert we’re going to on Sunday.

Tell me, what are your weekend plans? I hope they involve lots of relaxing, enjoying the sunshine, and drinking delicious cocktails like these!

Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep | CaliGirl Cooking

Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep
A refreshing take on the classic mint julep using fresh watermelon juice, basil and creamy, rich balsamic.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cubed watermelon this should make about 1 cup of juice
  • 4 ounces bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Club soda optional
Instructions
  1. Place cubed watermelon in a small bowl and puree with immersion blender (you could also use a regular blender or food processor for this.) Once pureed, strain fresh watermelon juice through a sieve into a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice. Add remaining ingredients and shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds.
  2. Fill two highball glasses about ¾ of the way with ice. Strain mixture in cocktail shaker into glasses, dividing evenly. Top with club soda and garnish with a watermelon cube and more fresh basil if desired.

Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep | CaliGirl Cooking

Refreshing to da max!