Welcome to Direct Your Dining! This cooking series will introduce you to energy efficient recipes full of tips to keep your meals delicious without using every appliance in the kitchen. Preparing recipes with energy efficiency in mind at least once a week will make cooking a little easier, and may even help reduce your monthly electricity bill. Check in every week for a new recipe full of flavor and creativity that will surely impress your friends and family.
Salads are excellent meal options! You can customize to your family’s tastes, and fill them with flavor and nutrition – all while keeping energy use to a minimum. This week’s delicious spring melon salad recipe only requires a small amount of energy use: whipping up the dressing and toasting some savory cashews.
I’ve shared many tips to help you save energy, time, or money over the course of this series, but I rarely mention my favorite – doing the produce prep work yourself. Quite often, the price on the prepare items (for example, pre-sliced fresh fruit or onions) is significantly higher than that of whole produce you have to wash, chop, and/or slice yourself at home. Sometimes, all you really need to prepare these meals is some old-fashioned hand prep work with a good, sharp knife! Sure, it might take longer, but you’re saving energy by not pulling out an appliance, and you’re saving money by doing the work yourself.
I do realize it can be hard to decide whether you should purchase produce to prep yourself, or hit up the prepackaged area where the food is ready to go (and often in smaller quantities than a whole piece of produce). This week’s salad is a perfect example. If you don’t see your family being able to eat the rest of the cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew melon after making this salad, this could be a great reason to skip buying 3 whole melons and just buy a part of one in the packaged fruit area.
Then again, if you have a house full of kids (or hungry partner) who likes fruit, just get the whole melons for them to eat as snacks or use them in other recipes this week. You’ll save money on this recipe, AND you won’t need to buy additional snacks.
The dressing takes less than 1 minute in a food processor or blender to prepare. The sweet local honey, tangy lime juice, and fresh basil herbs combine with a little essential seasoning and mixed oils to create a delectable topping. It’s amazing in this salad, and you should also use it as a marinade for chicken or seafood. This could easily become a staple your family can make quickly and efficiently for many different recipes.
The seasoned cashews add a great crunch factor to the sweetness of the fruit and provide important spicy, savory, sweet, and salty elements that pair really well with the crumbled feta and fresh mint.
Let’s get chopping!
Spring Melon Salad with Sweet Basil Lime Dressing
Sweet Basil and Lime Dressing Ingredients:
- ¼ c. Fresh sliced basil
- ¼ c. Fresh lime juice
- ¼ c. Avocado oil
- ½ c. Olive oil
- ¼ c. Local honey
- 2 tbsp. White wine vinegar
- ½ tsp. Sea Salt
- ¼ tsp. Cumin
- ½ tsp. Ground pink peppercorns
- ½ tsp. Lime zest
Toasted, Spiced Cashews Ingredients:
- ½ c. Cashews
- ½ tbsp. Butter
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Pinch of sea salt
- Pinch of cumin
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 Baby arugula container
- ¼ c. Fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 c. Red seedless grapes, sliced
- 1 c. Cantaloupe melon, diced
- 1 c. Honeydew Melon, diced
- 1 c. Watermelon, diced
- 1 Large avocado, diced
- ½ c. Feta cheese crumbles
1) Add all the dressing ingredients to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
2) Move the lime dressing to a container and let it cool in the refrigerator while preparing the cashews.
3) Heat the butter over medium heat in a nonstick pan. Add the cashews to the melted butter. Sprinkle the pinches of seasonings (a little less than 1/8 tsp. each) over the cashews and melted butter.
4) Let the cashews toast up with the seasoning for 2-3 minutes until turning golden brown. Remove from heat.
5) Prep the produce for the salad ingredients as directed.
6) Place a handful of the baby arugula in a mixing bowl. Add a small amount each of the grapes, melons, avocado, fresh chopped mint, and toasted cashews on top of the arugula. Toss these ingredients together with a drizzle of as little or as much dressing is preferred.
7) Move this to a serving bowl and top with a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese and a few extra toasted cashew pieces.
8) Repeat Steps 6 and 7 as needed to create the number of salads needed for your meal.
If you’re in a real time crunch, you can skip seasoning and toasting the cashews and making the dressing. Look instead for a bottled dressing with citrus and herb flavors. But I really suggest you try the savory toasted cashews and delicious homemade lime dressing if you have the time – the flavor combination is totally worth a few extra effort.
Check back in every week for more Direct Your Dining recipes to help reduce your energy use in the kitchen while getting creative with delicious dishes!
Recipe and Images by Stacie Morgan