In a small, Northern Vermont Kitchen, we sate our appetites with homemade meals and a love of local ingredients.

Orange Ancho Melon Salad with Maple Candied Pecans

A friend of ours went on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Maine and asked if we could check in on her little cats while she was gone.

We said we’d be happy to. Who doesn’t like checking in on adorable kittens?

And as a thank you, she gave us a fresh honeydew melon.

A sweet honeydew melon during a heatwave?

Um, yes, please!

When the temperature dropped a titch at night, I tossed some pecans with butter and smoked paprika into the oven for a few minutes. For some reason that idea popped into my head as something that would pair perfectly with the fresh melon. Salty, crunchy, smoky, nuts.

And I mean, hey. Free melon, right? That gave me an excuse to play with nary a consequence.

The next day I chopped up the nuts, and balled the melon. My mother had suggested orange juice and olive oil as a dressing, and I thought that sounded like a pretty great idea.

But it seemed like it wanted one more thing to tie it together. As I scanned the spices on the counter my eyes landed on the ancho powder.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

And wow, wow, wow.

If you have the ingredients for this salad kicking around, I beseech you to try it. Seriously.

Jedd and I chowed down the salad, and then drank the juice.

I’m going to freeze the nuts, and the next time we have a party I’m making this salad again. It’s kind of the perfect treat on a hot summer’s day.

Orange Ancho Melon Salad with Maple Candied Pecans

Serves 2.

Maple Candied Pecan Ingredients:

1 cup pecans

1 ½ tablespoons organic maple syrup

1 ½ tablespoons melted salted butter

½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pecans, maple syrup, butter, paprika, and kosher salt in a medium bowl. Toss well to coat.

Fit a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Spread the nuts out in a single layer.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. (They will crisp up as they cool.)

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Salad Ingredients:

Serves 2.

1 medium honeydew melon, scooped into balls

2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint

¼ cup orange juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ancho chili powder (or more to taste)

Instructions:

Place the melon and mint in a large bowl.

In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, salt, and ancho powder.

Drizzle over the salad, and toss well to coat.

Roughly chop the desired amount of pecans, and toss again.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

(Photos by Launie Kettler)

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