Deborah makes fun of me for this risotto, because she thinks it’s about forcing my love of melon and cured meats onto anything. That may be true, but this also grew out of our time living in Los Angeles, where melon is available all year long. Sweet, cold cantaloupe in a warm rice dish? That might raise eyebrows back home, where this dish bucks tradition but I found this combination a delicious match.


Serves: 4- 6 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 30-40 minutes

  • 4 cups vegetable stock, or more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Carnaroli rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 (1.5 oz) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
  • 2 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 Tuscan melon or cantaloupe , peeled and diced ¼ inch (about 1 cup)
  • 3 ounces of hand-cut speck (as opposed to machine- cut), sliced into 1-inch-long strips, 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-6 zucchini flowers (optional; for garnish)


  1. In a small pot, heat the stock over medium-low heat until just before boiling. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
  2. In a deep 14-inch nonstick 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 to 5 minutes, until softened but not colored.
  3. 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.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly start adding the stock, a 4-to 6-ounce ladleful at a time. Stir constantly and give the rice time to absorb the liquid each time before adding another ladleful, until the rice is al dente, about 15 to 25 minutes.
  5. Remove the rice from the heat and season with sea salt to taste. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the grated Parmesan. Set aside to cool for 5 to 7 minutes, until the risotto is room temperature.
  6. Add the melon and speck, stir well, and serve immediately on plates with a drizzle of olive oil and a zucchini flower (optional).