Rush-Hour Gourmet: Prosciutto, Cantaloupe and Orecchiette Salad

Prosciutto, cantaloupe, and orecchiette salad. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

A pasta salad should be easy - a just-throw-the-ingredients-in-a-bowl kind of summer food.

We added flavor in this one by way of salty prosciutto and sweet melon, to turn a classic Italian pairing into a summer dish.

But you could substitute bacon or salami for the prosciutto, green beans for the asparagus, peaches for the cantaloupe. The great thing is that it's so easy to make it yours.

Prosciutto, Cantaloupe and Orecchiette Salad

Makes 8 servings

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

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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.