Do you have a grocery store luxury item?
For us, it’s chopped melon.Does it cost more? Sure. But when we buy whole melons, unless they get cut within minutes of entering the house (unlikely), they are sure to meet a slow, squishy, fermented demise on the counter, so it’s money well spent.
And what do we do with a huge tub of cantaloupe chunks, besides eat them all straight from the container?
Toss them together with pasta, oil & champagne vinegar, salty shaved ricotta salata cheese, punchy green onions, crispy bits of pancetta, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a little handful of bright mint to make the most unusually interesting, perfectly light summer meal.
PASTA SALAD WITH MELON, PANCETTA & RICOTTA SALATA
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
8 ounces orecchiette or other shell-shaped pasta
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons champagne vinegar
4 cups cubed cantaloupe, honeydew, or other melon
1/3 cup freshly chopped mint
3 green onions, thinly sliced
big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper
2 ounces ricotta salata, shaved (a mild feta would work, too)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (it will make cleanup a little easier). Lay the pancetta in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 20-25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
While the pancetta crisps, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, run under cool water, and set aside to drain more.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Add the cooked pasta, melon, half of the mint, green onions, red pepper flakes, and crumble in half the cooled pancetta. Toss to combine and coat with the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Transfer to a large serving dish, or individual dishes, and top with remaining mint, pancetta, and shaved ricotta salata.
adapted very slightly from Bon Appétit