Sunday, 14 October 2012

Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, and Ricotta Salata

2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon)
4 ounces orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta)
Kosher salt
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 cups 1x1x1/4" pieces peeled melon (any variety)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, divided
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta), shaved, or crumbled feta

Heat oven to 350°. Arrange pancetta in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes. (Alternatively, place pancetta on folded layers of paper towels on a microwave-proof plate and microwave on high until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.) Let pancetta stand until cool enough to handle, then break into bite-size pieces.
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 pancetta, cooked pasta, melon, half of mint, scallion, and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle remaining pancetta and mint over. Garnish with shaved ricotta salata.

Serves 4.

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