Israeli Couscous with Cantaloupe, Pancetta and Ricotta Salata

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Things that have gone through my brain today:

-I can’t believe Insane Clown Posse have a spokeswoman (my only takeaway from that article).

-Moreover, I think I kind of want that job?

-Furthermore, no, I don’t.

-If I made it to 26 without getting a tattoo, it’s probably not meant to be.  GOODBYE WAYWARD YOUTH.

-My lunch is really delicious.

Let’s talk about this lunch.

One of the things Bon Appetit does best is create recipes I (and many others I’m sure) wish we’d come up with–in this case, a simple, fresh, quick summer salad, inspired by the never-fail combination of melon and prosciutto.  Their original recipe uses pasta as a base, which I imagine adds a nice al dente chewiness; I had Israeli couscous on hand and went with that instead.  It’s more of a wallflower than traditional pasta, both in flavor and texture, but in this case, it works nicely.  Also, it’s shaped like little tapioca balls, and that’s cute.

…And this is where, for the sake of photo-taking, I pretend to be left-handed.

What do you have here?  Juicy sweet melon, crispy salty bacon, fresh fragrant mint, crunchy green onions, and a generous pinch of spicy red pepper flakes.  All sitting atop a basic oil-and-vinegar dressing and a pile of pillowy, soft couscous.  Toss, season and top it with crumbly shavings of salty-and-slightly-sweet ricotta salata (the salted, dried and aged version of the creamy stuff).  Hello, lunch.

I wonder what ICP’s spokeswoman had for lunch today.  Stay strong, sister.

Israeli Couscous with Cantaloupe, Pancetta and Ricotta Salata
(barely adapted from Epicurious

2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta 
1 1/2 cups dry Israeli couscous
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (I used Chardonnay vinegar)
2 cups melon cubes 
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons green onion, sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
Shaved ricotta salata, for garnish

Crisp pancetta on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven or in the microwave, layered with paper towels, microwaving it in 30-45 second intervals until browned and crisp.  Allow it to cool and crumble into small pieces.

Meanwhile, put Israeli couscous into a medium saucepan, pour 2 cups boiling water over it, and continue simmering over low heat until tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes; drain any excess liquid.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine oil and vinegar and whisk to incorporate thoroughly.  Add the couscous, pancetta, melon, mint, green onion and red pepper flakes.  Toss to coat and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with ricotta salata and serve immediately.  Serves 4 as a side, 2-3 as a main.

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