First course, light lunch, breakfast or intermezzo–there’s no better hot-weather fare than cool, ripe cantaloupe. It’s a sweet, summertime favorite no matter how you slice it.

Few things capture the flavor of summer like refreshing, sweet cantaloupe. Its fragrance alone creates a heady experience. What’s more: It’s really good for you. Besides being low fat, low calorie and full of antioxidant flavinoids, melons are also full of water—a super-necessary but often underemphasized nutrition consideration in the mountain west. Need another reason to indulge in this fruity fave? The following easy-to-prepare recipes provide four.

Melon Mania

Cantaloupe with Strawberry Gelato, Coarse Salt and Black Pepper

Peel, seed and cut melon into 8 crescents. Using a melon-baller, place scoops of strawberry gelato on each melon wedge. Top wedge with a grind of black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.

Melon Mania

Cantaloupe with Prosciutto and Basil

Peel, seed and cut melon into 8 crescents. Wrap each one with two slices of very thinly cut prosciutto and garnish with basil sprigs.

Melon Mania

Cantaloupe with Honeyed Blueberries

Peel, seed and cut melon into 8 crescents. Mix 1 Tbsp. lemon juice with 2 Tbsp. honey and a pinch of cinnamon. Gently toss dressing with blueberries and spoon mixture over each melon wedge. Sprinkle with chopped mint.

Melon Mania

Cantaloupe with Chili and Lime Salt

Peel, seed and cut melon into 8 crescents. Process zest and juice of one lime with one Tbsp. kosher salt in processor. Sprinkle melon slices with pure ground chile (not a chili powder blend)—about 1 Tbsp. per whole melon. Sprinkle melon wedges with lime salt and garnish with lime wedges.

Cantaloupe Picking Pointers

To select ripe cantaloupes, give them the sniff test. No fragrance signals little flavor. Avoid melons that slosh when you shake them and favor those with a slight green tinge. While melons don’t ripen more once they are picked, they do soften. Once cut, store chilled in an airtight container for up to three days.

— Mary Brown Malouf

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