Pasta With Melon And Pancetta

Recipe courtesy of Chef Ida Shen of the University of California, Berkeley, serves this traditional pairing of melon and pancetta mixed into pasta for a unique presentation.

4 pounds orecchiette
6 pounds fresh ripe, but firm melon, such as Ambrosia, Crenshaw, or Persian
8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds diced pancetta or prosciutto
1 1/2 quart heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil or mint
as needed salt
as needed freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pound grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  1. Cook the Barilla pasta until just short of al dente. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking.
  2. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool in a blast chiller or walk-in fridge. Store in zip lock bags or sealed plastic container; refrigerate and use within several hours.
  3. Cut the melon into medium dice (1/2 by ½ inch). For each serving, to order: Melt ½ tsp butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook 1 oz pancetta until crisp. Add 4 oz melon dice and heat for 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup cream, about 1 Tbsp herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Stir in ¼ cup cheese and 1 1/3 cup pasta. Stir and heat until warm through.
  4. Plate and garnish with additional cheese or herbs.