Heirloom Tomato, Melon and Arugula Salad

Photo by: Lucy Alexander

Photo by: Lucy Alexander

  Slicing, dicing, grating or sautéing are always more enjoyable with a little music playing in the background. Of course when it is Aretha Franklin, it isn’t exactly background music. “You’re a no good heartbreaker, you’re a liar, and you’re a cheat. I don’t know why I let you do these things to me…”  What ever happened to that gold suede mini skirt?  No never mind, I am going to turn Aretha up to 8, and sing at the top of my lungs. Of course dancing around the kitchen could make dinner a bit later than usual— but who cares, it’s Aretha!  “Baby baby baby sweet baby there’s something that I just got to say…” Of course it is important to pay attention when cutting vegetables, so as not to end up on the “Chain, chain chain, chain of fools…”. Put the knife down when it’s time to shimmy around the kitchen island like you did at that party…  “What you want baby I got it, what you need you know I got it…” Don’t get carried away and make a salad for ten people when it is just the two of you. “You

better think, think think  …” don’t forget to set the timer or that meat will be overcooked. “Kiss me once again, don’t you never never say that we’re through…”  Set the table and pour the wine. “You make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like a natural woman...:” OK, it is time to reluctantly take off my dancing shoes and sit down to eat dinner. BUT before I pick up that fork I take a moment to thank Aretha Franklin for all the times she lifted my spirits and made me forget where I was, if only for that one song.  She did this for me many times over the years. Her voice soared to heights like no one else’s. I danced to her music at parties, sang along with girlfriends at the top of my lungs ( “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”), cried into my pillow over heartbreaks, to her songs. Music brings back memories of hard times as well as happy ones. As I have listened to her music over the past couple weeks many of those memories have come flooding back. Thank you Aretha Franklin, RIP.

It is the peak season for tomatoes and cantaloupe; they are plentiful and flavorful. Cantaloupe has a more dense texture than watermelon, and works well with the softness of the tomatoes and the creaminess of the burrata. What also makes this salad great is the fish sauce in the dressing. It gives a slightly salty flavor without the fishiness that anchovies can lend to a dressing. If you want, you can skip the arugula and serve the salad along with grilled chicken or steak. 

Tomato, Melon and Arugula Salad


  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes cut into bite- sized chunks

  • ¼ cantaloupe skinned and cut into bite- sized chunks

  • ½ cup burrata cheese at room temperature

  • Thinly sliced red onion

  • 5 or 6 pickled cherries cut in half (optional)

  • 3 cups washed and dried arugula

Photo by: Lucy Alexander

Photo by: Lucy Alexander

For the dressing add all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake until the mustard is incorporated. Set aside.

Into a medium bowl toss the tomatoes and cantaloupe with a tablespoon dressing. Let them sit for about 20 minutes. Then drain.

Arrange the dried arugula in a line down the middle of the platter.  Using about eight or ten pieces of tomato and cantaloupe, place them on top of the arugula. Arrange them so that the colors are not all the same. Add a dollop of burrata cheese, and then continue adding more tomatoes and cantaloupe. Sprinkle thin slices of red onion throughout. Repeat with the burrata, tomatoes, and cantaloupe until you get to the end of the bed of arugula. Top with the picked cherries. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the salad and serve.

Written by: Claudia Alexander 

You can purchase the white platter and wooden bread board pictured above at Hudson Grace



Photo by: Lucy Alexander

Photo by: Lucy Alexander



  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (I use Red Boat)

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon scant

Photo by: Lucy Alexander

Photo by: Lucy Alexander