Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto

Pesto is generally a pureed mixture of basil, Parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil. It's a delicious sauce that can be spread on sandwiches, used as pizza sauce, or tossed with pasta. Another great thing about pesto is that the method can be adopted to use a number of different ingredients, each making a unique pesto sauce that can be used with all sorts of dishes. I have had pesto made with mint, with asparagus, and even with red bell peppers. This dish, however, was the the first time I had tried, or even heard of, pesto made with fresh corn. I love corn on the cob during the summer when it's in season. Nothing can compare with the sweetness of good corn and it's sadly only available for a few short months. Although I could just eat it all the time on the grill, I loved looking through the section in a recent Bon Appetit Magazine dedicated to recipes featuring fresh corn. This corn pesto looked the most interesting and was definitely a unique way to use the fresh ingredient. The pesto was so thick and creamy that the pasta tasted almost like an Alfredo dish but without the fat of a lot of cream. It was amazing how rich a dish made almost entirely of vegetables could taste. I served this pasta as a main dish with just a simple side salad or it would be great as a side dish with grilled chicken or steak. August is peak season for fresh corn, so get some while it's still at its best.

Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto
  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 large ears of corn; see tip below for technique)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus some for garnish
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz thick cut pasta, such as fettuccine
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add corn, garlic, about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
Saute until corn is tender but not brown, 3-4 minutes.
Reserve about 1 1/2 cup of corn mixture in a small bowl.
Place the remaining corn mixture into a food processor.
Add Parmesan and pine nuts and puree to combine.
With machine running, add in olive oil and blend until pesto is almost smooth. Set aside.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until just tender.
Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water and drain pasta.
Return pasta to the pot and combine with corn pesto, reserved corn kernels and 1/2 cup basil leaves.
Toss over medium heat, adding pasta water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin out the pesto.
Cook until warmed through and of the desired consistency.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve pasta garnished with fresh basil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Technique Tip: To remove the kernels from an ear of corn, place a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl. Peel the corn, removing all of the strings. Cut the ear in half to make it easier to work with. Place one flat end of the corn on top of the small bowl. Run your knife from top to bottom of the ear, allowing the kernels to collect in the larger bowl; repeat on all sides with each ear of corn.

For a printable recipe click here.

1 comment:

  1. I have NEVER heard of corn pesto - i love corn and i love pesto - can't be bad to put the two together! Gotta try it!