Pancetta Corn & Tomato Pasta Salad

This perfect summertime pasta salad recipe is not only quick and easy but is exploding with flavor from the crispy porky pancetta to the fresh tomato, sweet corn, pickled red onion, shaves of salty cheesy parmesan, and spicy arugula for a unique mouth-watering bite every time!

Nothing says summer quite like the perfect pasta salad to take on a picnic, great for a cookout, or the star of the potluck. You’ll be making this super quick and easy pasta salad loaded with fresh flavor-filled ingredients all summer long!

One of the best things about pasta salad is how it can be made in advance, developing even more flavor after it’s made. Less time in the kitchen and more time outside creating a zestful summer is a huge goal and this recipe totally hits the spot!

Note: if you do decide to make this in advance, you want to make sure it’s at room temperature before serving to make sure the olive oil isn’t cold and hard.

Pasta Salad Tips

  • Cook your pasta perfectly al dente. The texture is everything to me in a dish and NO ONE wants soft pasta, it should have some chew.
  • Let your pasta slightly completely before tossing it into the sauce. The trick is to let the pasta cool for a few minutes so it’s still warm and will absorb more of the flavors. For the more delicate ingredients like certain vegetables and cheese, you want to wait until the pasta is mostly cooled before adding those like the arugula, basil and parmesan.
  • Taste and adjust. This recipe is more of a suggestion, make it the way YOU want to, it’s designed to be flexible so if it needs more oil, some salt, more of your favorite ingredient, or something else you decide! Taste and adjust to create your perfect pasta salad!
  • Save some herbs for garnish! This pasta salad recipe is a great one to make ahead, but if you do, save the arugula and basil for the last minute and even MORE basil for a beautiful garnish.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe Variations

This pasta salad is fantastic as-is, but feel free to change it up to match your tastes or the ingredients in your pantry. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make it gluten-free! Chickpea, lentil, or any type of gluten-free pasta would be a great substitute!
  • Make it vegetarian. Leave out the pancetta and just use extra olive oil to cook the tomato picture in the pan but maybe add something crunchy and smokey like nuts and maybe roasted red pepper too for layers of flavor!
  • Make it even easier! Crisp the pancetta in advance or just stop there with the cooking then add fresh tomatoes into the bowl with minced garlic and all the other ingredients for an even easier and fresher recipe!
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Pancetta Corn & Tomato Pasta Salad


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/2 lb short pasta
  • 4 oz of pancetta, cubed
  • 6 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed & peeled
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/41/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 23 ears of cooked corn, kernels removed
  • 1/4 cup pickled red onions, chopped
  • very large handful of arugula, roughly torn
  • small handful of fresh basil, torn

Quick Pickle Red Onions

  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon aleppo pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. For the pickled red onions combine the water and vinegar into a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the thinly sliced onions to a heat-proof container and cover with vinegar liquid, then add salt, sugar, and pepper flakes. Stir and let the onions sit until the liquid completely cools and store in the fridge.
  2. To a large pot of boiling water add salt and pasta. Stir the pasta every few minutes and cook until al dente. While the pasta cooks and cools after draining prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Add the cubed pancetta to a large saute pan and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir the pancetta frequently making sure to brown and crisp all sides. Strain the pancetta reserving the fat in the pan and place it on a paper towel to cool.
  4. Turning the skillet down to medium-low heat adding in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the halved tomatoes, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the tomatoes just begin to soften then add the mustard and red wine vinegar.
  5. Stir in the honey, mustard, and red vinegar until dissolved, and turn off the heat, take out the garlic cloves, and stir in the corn and chopped red onions.
  6. Wait a few minutes for the sauce to cool slightly before adding it to a large bowl with the cooked pasta, and another 2 or so tablespoons of olive oil (taste first before adding more oil to see if it needs it).
  7. Stir until the pasta is coated in the sauce and add the arugula and basil at the last minute before enjoying!

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