A simple Prosciutto Melon Panzanella Salad for summer! Fresh cantaloupe melon is mixed with prosciutto ham, mozzarella cheese, arugula, and bread.
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If you are new to panzanella salads, think of them as a salad with less lettuce and extra, giant croutons! This classic Italian salad is versatile and a fun side dish for summer BBQs.
A classic dish in Italy that you will find just about everywhere is prosciutto e melone. This is a very, very simple appetizer that is just wedges of cantaloupe melon wrapped with thin slices of prosciutto ham. That’s it. It is SO simple but the simpleness of Italian recipes is what makes them so great. And that means you want to use fresh and high quality ingredients.
A natural pairing with prosciutto ham and cantaloupe is mozzarella cheese which adds a great creamy texture to the Prosciutto Melon Salad. Plus, there are a lot of cheese lovers around here, so it is always welcomed.
You can find prosciutto pre-sliced in packages near the deli counter at your local supermarket. A little goes a long way here, so approximately 3 ounces is enough (unless you want more!). Just tear the prosciutto slices into smaller pieces, about 4-5 pieces per slice, for the Panzanella Salad.
The bread salad was so pretty, part of me did not want to dive into it. Kind of like when you have a pretty cake or something. But it is meant to be eaten and tastes as great as it looks!
You can use any dressing you like or have on hand. The dressing included in this Prosciutto Melon Panzanella Salad recipe brings a great balance of citrus and tang with a touch of sweetness to the salad. It literally takes just a couple minutes to make. But you can also use a dressing that is citrus based or a vinaigrette. I would avoid anything too sweet unless you want a sweet salad.
- 6 cups hearty bread, cubed (approx 1 pound total)(see note)
- olive oil
- 1/2 cantaloupe cut in 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups arugula lightly packed
- 3 ounces prosciutto (more if desired)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls (or other fresh mozzarella cut in bite sized pieces)
- 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- black pepper
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Cut the bread into approximately 1 inch cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and a little salt.
- Bake the bread until the cubes are just crunchy but do not squish or bend. They should not be as hard as croutons. The time this takes will depend on how dry/dense your bread already is (for me it typically takes 20-30 minutes). When done, set aside to cool to room temperature.
- While the bread is baking, prepare the mix-ins. Either cut the cantaloupe into 1 inch pieces or use a melon baller to get balls of melon. Place in a large bowl. (If using a melon baller, see note).
- Add the arugula to the bowl with the cantaloupe.
- Tear the prosciutto slices into smaller pieces (4-5 pieces per slice) and add to the bowl. Cut the mozzarella if needed into bite sized pieces and add to the bowl.
- In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients. Whisk together and salt or pepper to taste.
- When the bread is done and cooled to room temperature, add the bread and toss to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Let the dressing sit on the salad ideally for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving so that it starts to soak into the bread. It will not make the bread soggy.