adapted from: Bon Appétit (August 2012 issue)
When my husband heard what was going in this pasta salad there were some raised eyebrows, but to me the combination of ingredients looked and sounded tantalizing and tasty. They were. David, no longer skeptical, kept saying “this is SO good” and went back for seconds and thirds. If you have ever had prosciutto wrapped melon, then you know that melons and salt cured meat are a perfect match. Add some pasta shells, ricotta salata, mint, some red pepper flakes and a light vinaigrette and you have a pasta salad that will delight your mouth. But don’t expect to have any leftovers.
6-8 oz. thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon) or bacon
6 oz. orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta)
3 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ½ tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
2 cups peeled melon (any variety or combination), in 1” chunks (I used cantaloupe)
2-3 tablespoons sliced chives
pinch (or 2 or 3) of crushed red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper
1 oz ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta) shaved, or crumbled feta
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a medium pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta; run under cold water to cool. Drain and set aside.
Whisk oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Add half of bacon, cooked pasta, melon, half of mint, chives, and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle remaining bacon and mint over. Garnish with shaved or crumbled ricotta salata.
* this pasta salad can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes. I added more bacon and pasta than the recipe originally called for, 2 and 4 oz respectively. Feel free to add more or less of anything. You can make more dressing if you need to.