Serrano ham, a Spanish delicacy, pairs exquisitely with basil-infused melon. The ham's salty richness complements the melon's sweet, refreshing notes, creating a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. This appetizing combination is a culinary delight, balancing savory and sweet, making it a perfect choice for a summer appetizer.
- Halve the melons, deseed and cut off the peel, then cut the flesh of 1 melon into neat 2.5cm cubes – you need about 24 cubes. Keep the trimmings to make the 'soup'. Finely slice 10 large basil leaves and mix with the cubes of melon and 1 teaspoon of olive oil in an airtight plastic container. Chill overnight; the flavours will combine.
- Scoop the flesh of the other ½ melon together with the trimmings into a food processor and blend until it is really smooth.
- Pass the soup through a sieve into a pan and add 10 whole stems of basil (not the leaves). Bring to the boil then immediately remove from the heat. Allow to cool completely, then chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove the marinated melon and serrano ham from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving, so they aren't fridge-cold.
- Arrange the ham in twists on 4 starter plates, tucking in the infused diced melon. Scatter with a few small rocket leaves and basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil. Discard the basil stalks from the chilled melon soup and serve it on the side, in little bottles or shot glasses.
Recipe by Ben Murphy Head Chef at The Woodford in South Woodford, London. During his time there, the restaurant picked up various accolades such as the Champagne Laurent-Perrier London Restaurant of the Year.
Recipe photograph by Steve Ryan