Summertime, and the chillin’ ain’t easy.

Temperature’s rising, and the heat index is high.

Oh, you may be rich and very good lookin’,

But remember, baby, hot weather makes everyone cry.

 For the past few months, we have been sweating like some kind of farm animal here in the Coachella Valley to the extent it is hard to tell tears from perspiration.  So we are always looking for some Summer Chillin’ that does not involve running the A/C full blast 24/7 or walking zombie-like around and around the local, highly air conditioned mall.

Slaving over a hot stove can be deleterious to one’s health, so we try to minimize our use of the oven and stove.  Salads, soups, and pastas that can be served room temperature or cold are indispensable during the summer.  And if appliances must be used, an icy cocktail or cold glass of rosé wine is an essential utensil.

Aperol Spritz & Cantaloupe Risotto 015

We recently discovered a “risotto” dish from the Extra Virgin Cookbook that is perfect for Summer Chillin’.  You don’t normally think of risotto as a room temperature dish, but Gabriel Corocoros found inspiration for this dish while living in sunny L.A.  This risotto is light and fresh and justifies the time spent in front of the stove.  The bits of cantaloupe and speck provide that fantastic sweet and salty combination that is the foundation of so many delectable dishes.  Garnish with some fresh basil from the garden or, if you are lucky and live in a temperate climate, some zucchini or squash blossom flowers.  As if by prestidigitation, the heft of the risotto is balanced by the lightness of the cantaloupe and the freshness of the basil.  Oh, and for extra panache use the cantaloupe as your serving vessel.  Just remember to cut off a bit of the bottom so it does not flop around on the plate like a drunken sailor.

Brisk Beverages

Chilled Starters

Snappy Salads and Sides

Refreshing Main Dishes

Cool Confections


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Aperol Spritz & Cantaloupe Risotto 031


5.0 from 3 reviews

Cantaloupe Risotto
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Recipe type: Appetizer or Entree
Cuisine: Cal-Italian
Serves: 4-8

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice (can also substitute farro)
  • ½ cup dry wine
  • 1 piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cantaloupe cut in half and seeded
  • 1 cup chopped cantaloupe fruit from cantaloupe you seeded
  • ½ pound hand cut speck, sliced into ¼ inch long pieces
  • freshly chopped basil

  1. In a small pan, heat the stock over medium-low heat until just before boiling. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
  2. In a risotto pan, or deep 14-inch non-stick sauté pan, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Add the shallot and sauté for 4-5 minutes until softened but does not color or caramelize. Add the rice and stir well, evenly coating all the grains. Add the wine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to let it reduce. Add the cheese rind and season with pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowing start adding the stock, a 4-6 ounce ladle at a time. Stir constantly and give the rice time to absorb the liquid each time before adding another ladleful, until the rice in al-dente, 15-25 minutes.
  3. Remove the rice from the heat and season with sea salt to taste. Stir in remaining tablespoon of butter and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Set aside to cool for 5-8 minutes, until the risotto is room temperature. Add the melon and speck, stir well, garnish with basil. Serve immediately.