Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pasta Salad with Melon and Pancetta

Recently, I wanted wanted to make different dishes for my beautiful wife, Clare.  (This is just one of the many ways that she inspires my cooking hobby.)  I decided that I would try something very different ... a pasta salad.  I do not make pasta salads, which is rather odd given how much I love pasta.  I guess that, for me, pasta is always something that is served hot, with a a warm sauce.  (I would be remiss if I did not mention the meatballs and sausage.)  Cold pasta in salad form did not seem to fit into that mold.  Do not get me wrong, I eat pasta salads and really like most pasta salads.  I just never thought of making one.

Once I decided to make a pasta salad, I set off through the Internet to find a recipe that was interesting enough for me to try.  I came across a recipe from the Bon Appetit website.  The recipe called for the use of orecchiete, which is the ear-shaped pasta that originated from Puglia (or Apulia).  It also incorporated a couple of ingredients that I really like ... melon and, of course, pancetta.  The combination of pasta, melon and pancetta work very well together.  The recipe also calls for ricotta salata, a dry version of ricotta cheese, to be used like a garnish.  I could not find any ricotta salata at the store where I did my shopping; so, I decided to leave it out.  The salad still turned out very well. 

Adapted from a recipe by Soa Davies in Bon Appetit (Aug. 2012)
Serves 4

2 to 3 ounces of pancetta
4 ounces of orecchiette pasta
Kosher salt
3 1/2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 cups of melon, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/3 cup of fresh mint, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons of thinly sliced scallon
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta cheese

1. Brown the pancetta.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Arrange the pancetta in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let the pancetta stand until cool enough to handle, then break into bite size pieces or into crumbles.

2.  Cook the pasta.  Cook pasta in medium pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally until al dente.  Drain the pasta and run under cold water to cool.  Drain and set aside.  

3.  Finish the dish.  Whisk oil and vinegar in a large bowl.  Add half of pancetta, cooked pasta, melon, half of mint, scallion and red pepper flakes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfewr to a serving dish and sprinkle remaining pancetta and mint over the salad. 


There were no recommendations provided with the recipe for pairing the dish with either beer or wine.  Given the lightness of the salad, I think that the best pairing would also be on the lighter side.  If you are looking for a beer, a light pilsner would work well.  If you are lookinf for a wine, a light white wine, such as .  Here are a couple of potential options:

Great Lakes Brewing Company -- The Wright Pils
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Light flavors of hops and malts

L'Ecole No. 41 -- Columbia Valley Sémillon
87% Sémillon and 13% Sauvignon Blanc
Walla Walla, Washington, USA
Flavors of apples, pear and a little melon



amy huggins gaw said...

will have to try. sounds yummy!

Keith Bolek said...

Amy, thanks for reading my post. I enjoy following the Outer Banks Epicurean; and, of course, I enjoy the sea salt!

Steve Grossi said...

I read this recipe on your blog and then forgot where I'd seen it, so I tried to re-create it (imperfectly) from memory while at the grocery store. Ended up getting prosciutto instead of pancetta and snow peas instead of scallions, but it turned out alright!

Keith Bolek said...

I am glad it turned out alright. Prosciutto can serve as a substitute for pancetta, although it is not quite the same. The snow peas sound interesting though. Thanks for reading my blog!

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