A pasta salad should be easy. It should be a just-throw-the-ingredients-in-a-bowl kind of summer food that doesn't require too much messing around.
With that in mind, we designed this salad to be just that. We do a quick boil of the pasta, and we throw in the veggies to blanch during the last 2 minutes. This simple trick saves you a pot to wash and an extra step.
Then we add some flavor in the way of salty prosciutto and sweet melon, and you've got a classic Italian pairing turned into summer side dish. Of course, because it's pasta salad, the combinations really are limitless. You can substitute any shape pasta you prefer. Switch out the prosciutto for bacon or salami, green beans for the asparagus, peaches for the cantaloupe. The great thing about pasta salad is that it's so easy to make it yours.
PROSCIUTTO, CANTALOUPE AND ORECCHIETTE SALAD
Start to finish: 30 minutes
16 ounces orecchiette pasta
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 cup diced cantaloupe
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
Two minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, add the asparagus. When the pasta is finished, drain immediately and mix in several ice cubes. Stand the strainer of pasta and asparagus in the sink and run cool water over them until completely cooled.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Add the cooked and cooled pasta and asparagus, the fennel, prosciutto, cantaloupe and basil. Gently stir to combine and distribute the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, then garnish with the Parmesan.
Nutrition information per serving: 320 calories; 70 calories from fat (22 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 49 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 14 g protein; 470 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Alison Ladman is a recipe developer for the AP. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CrustAndCrumbCo