Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, Arugula and Ricotta Salata

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How lovely it is to be home!  We just returned from a fantastic trip to Madison, Wisconsin and Bridgehampton, New York, but it was great to unpack, hug Forest, and sleep in our own bed.  The last six weeks were dominated by extremely long bike rides, slightly shorter runs, open water swimming, and a lot of nerves.  I feel like I've been a bit remiss where my friends, family, and husband are concerned - there has been a bit too much Ironman preparation and too little fun.  

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I'm optimistic that the turn of the seasons and less time on my bike will mean a return to normalcy... and more cooking.  After we unpacked on Sunday, I went to the grocery store and whipped up a dish that K recommended from the August 2012 issue of Bon Appétit.  It still feels like summer here, so a light pasta salad seemed like the perfect "welcome home" meal.  And is it possible that this is the first thing I have made from Bon Appétit in three months?  Eek.

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Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, Arugula and Ricotta Salata

Adapted from Bon Appétit

Yield = 4-6 servings 

A few notes about this recipe.  I made this with cantaloupe.  K reported that it was delicious with honeydew, too.  The original recipe called for mint, which we didn't have - I am sure it is a nice addition, but it isn't necessary.  We did have arugula, so I added a few handfuls, which I really liked - it offsets the ricotta salata and the pancetta well.

Ingredients

  • 4 ouncesthinly sliced pancetta (bacon would work equally as well)
  • 8ouncesorecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) (I couldn't find orecchiete, so I used lumaconi, which are snail shell-shaped and probably larger than ideal... but I love the shape)
  • Kosher salt 
  • 4 tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoonsbalsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups1x1x1/4" pieces peeled melon
  • 3tablespoonsthinly sliced scallion
  • Pinchof crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ouncesricotta salata (salted dry ricotta), shaved
  • 2 cups (approximately) arugula

Preparation

  • 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.  Start with 3 minutes and add time accordingly being sure not to overcook.  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, the scallions, and the red pepper flakes and stir to combine.  Add the cooked pasta, melon, and arugula and toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining pancetta.  Garnish with shaved ricotta salata.  
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Forest seems concerned that we might leave him again at any time.