It's hard not to be charmed by the salty-sweet marriage of pancetta and melon. (And with a summer crop that's sweeter than ever, now's the time to reach for the melon baller.) Here the classic pair is joined by fresh mint and tangy feta in a bright pasta salad that satisfies every taste bud.
ORECCHIETTE WITH MELON, PANCETTA, FETA & MINT
[Adapted from Bon Appetit]
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
6 ounces orecchiette pasta
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 cups cantaloupe, scooped with melon-baller
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, divided
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce crumbled feta
Heat oven to 350dgF. Place pancetta in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. (Even faster: place pancetta between folded layers of paper towels on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 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 cooked pasta, melon, red onion, half of the mint and pancetta pieces, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, garnish with crumbled feta and sprinkle remaining pancetta and mint over top.