Refreshing and light, this salad is HUGE success at every event. The sweet summer melon, the crisp cucumber with its hint of bitterness is all balanced—nope, it’s elevated—by the punch of ginger. It also keeps well if chilled and soaks up that gingery elixir wonderfully. Some of the testers loved it that way, but I think it’s really best when the melon are freshly cut. No matter how you slice this one, it’s just too darned good for something so fast! Allow time for the ginger syrup to cool. And if you can’t find any of the exotic melons called for here, just add more of the melon that you do have.
¾ cup water
- 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into rough julienne strips
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar or Sugar in the Raw
- ½ small seedless watermelon
- ½ cantaloupe
- ¼ other melon such as Crenshaw, Santa Claus, galia, canary, sharlyn, or casaba
- 2 medium seedless English cucumbers or 4 small firm kirby cukes, peeled and cut crosswise into 3-inch chunks
- 2 to 4 tablespoons ginger liqueur, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur preferred
- Pour the water into a medium-sized saucepan, add the ginger, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the the heat to medium, and add the sugar, whisking gently until it is completely dissolved. Cook for about 20 minutes, just until the liquid darkens and it has reduced in volume by half. While the syrup cooks, if you would like to work ahead, cut all the melon into ½ inch thick slices, removing the rind and seeds, and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.
- After about 20 minutes, remove the syrup from the heat and let stand until the liquid is cool enough to touch. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a heat-resistant glass jar and refrigerate for about 45 minutes, until fully chilled. If you like your ginger strong and intense, you can opt not to strain now and let the ginger sit in the syrup until you are ready to use it; then strain just before using.
- When you are ready to serve, if you have not already done so, cut the watermelon, cantaloupe and other melon into ½ inch thick slices, removing the rind and seeds. Arrange the melon and cucumber slices decoratively on a rimmed serving plate.
Add the ginger liqueur to the strained ginger syrup and stir to blend. Pour the syrup over the melon and cucumbers, and serve.