Salad Brain Exercise–Spicy Cantaloupe Platter Salad

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell

Salad Brain is a creativity platform.

These exercises use the platter, rather than the typical deep salad bowl, as the canvas for creation and a means to illustrate the universal process of creative thinking and design. No matter the field, the steps of creativity are the same. Here we’re using salads because we all have some experience with salad, a low-stakes, easy medium for practicing everyday creativity. Plus, your installation will feed you beautifully and well, and shouldn’t we all be eating more salads anyway?


For an introduction to getting in touch with your salad brain, read Welcome to Salad Brain Creativity.








You pick the dressing.


This is an early example of our platteral thinking. See the recipe below.  We were just developing the concept back when watermelon salads were all the rage.  We just played around with another melon.


How would you change it up? Change the melon. Add a cheese.  How would different dressings affect the outcome? A sweet soy, a basic vinaigrette?  What if we changed the proportions of the ingredients? What if the cucumbers were the main ingredient.  How about we smash the cukes and radishes.  Sesame seeds?


Spicy Cantaloupe Platter Salad is the new watermelon salad. 

We see more and more salads that combine savory/spicy greens and vegetables with sweet fruits. In fact, watermelon salads of every kind have taken over summer restaurant menus and now seem as old news as beets with goat cheese.  So this summer, while you still can, switch to cantaloupe.  It’s the new watermelon. Next year maybe our darling melon of choice will be the Honey Dew.

Cantaloupe has a tight/smooth/velvety texture that won’t water down your salad as much as watermelon. Its perfumed flavor naturally attracts peppery ingredients like radishes and arugula. Onions add a savory note and hot serranos or jalapenos add heat and earthiness. Feel free to sprinkle the whole thing with feta for a salad that hits every note-spicy, savory, sweet, crunchy, creamy.  All you need for dressing is a simple olive oil and vinegar drizzle.  Be liberal with the salt.

Melons are an especially weighty ingredient. When a salad gets heavy like this, your best bet is to serve it on a shallow platter. Scatter the greens on the bottom and layer/jumble up the fruits and vegetables going from big to small.  A deep salad bowl won’t show off the shapes and colors as nicely and they’ll all tend to sink. Drizzling on the dressing won’t be a problem on a shallow platter as it will easily touch all the ingredients.  No tossing necessary.

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