guys. ladies. people of the interwebs.
this corn pesto pasta is so freaking good!
it is tempting to stop there so that i won’t delay you from dashing to the farmer’s market, grabbing an armful of corn, and coming home to assemble this quick and delicious pesto that you need to eat right now.
but in case you are the type who prefers to be presented with information so that you can decide for yourself rather than just told what to do, allow me to present you with some information:
- we’re only one day out of august and this recipe involves corn on the cob.
- also basil.
- and bacon, if you like.
- plus cheese.
- aaand pine nuts.
in short, all the delicious things! some of which maybe you didn’t realize were best friends with each other (such as basil and bacon), but they are. don’t take my word for it, though; make the recipe and let your taste buds attest to this. whoops, telling you what to do there again.
while i’m being bossy, let me explain one of the main changes i made to the original recipe, because you’re going to think i’m nutso at first. the original recipe calls for 4 strips of bacon and… i think 2 is plenty. i know. i know! hear me out though: this recipe is really all about the corn. the basil, cheese, and pine nuts all recognize this and subtly bolster the corn’s flavor without trying to overpower the corn.
the bacon though? the bacon gets a little competitive and tries to outdo the corn. cutting the number of slices in half and keeping the bacon on the side to be sprinkled over the top of the corn pesto, rather than mixed in, helps keep it in check so that it too can complement, rather than compete. i did enjoy the flavor that comes from cooking the corn in the same pan after the bacon but if you’re sharing with your vegetarian friends, then you can certainly grab a clean pan and some olive oil and go from there.
this is also why i tagged a recipe with bacon in it as vegetarian. i generally like bacon and genuinely prefer this recipe without it. calling this vegetarian is not the same thing as offering a vegetarian a hot dog and bun and telling them to just eat around the hot dog if they don’t eat meat. this corn pesto is delicious for all of the people. (well, not the vegans. sorry.)
if you somehow manage to have leftovers (e.g. there are only 2 of you and you don’t want to feel sick because you finished a recipe that serves 4, delicious and tempting though it may be to eat the entire thing at once…), then please note that the pasta will soak up some of the liquid from the corn pesto as it sits in the fridge. we stored our leftover corn pesto and pasta all combined together and the day after i made this, the corn pesto was notably thicker/slightly drier and the pasta was softer. you may wish to store the pasta and the corn pesto separately or consider keeping a bit of the pasta water in a little jar in the fridge to add just before you heat up the leftovers.
i wouldn’t dump more liquid in the pesto before storing them together, though, as this will just exacerbate the situation. you can also try to reduce the softness of the pasta by choosing a hearty/thick pasta shape (thick rigatoni = good, angel hair = ha!). honestly though, even if you cook the pasta for twice as long as you’re supposed to and don’t drain it, the corn pesto will still be amazing.
in short: yum. now. please.
- 2 slices of bacon, optional
- 25 3/8 oz. (722 g. / 4 cups) fresh corn kernels (cut from approximately 6 large ears of corn)
- 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 1/4 oz. (32 g. / 1/4 cup) grated romano cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 5/8 oz. (45 g. / 1/3 cup) pine nuts, toasted
- 2 oz. (30 ml / 1/4 cup) olive oil
- 1 oz. (31 g. / 3/4 cup) basil, cut into thin ribbons
- 8 oz. thick cut pasta, such as a thick rigatoni or penne
- 8 oz. (237 ml / 1 cup) reserved pasta water
- cook the bacon over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet until it is your preferred level of done (may i suggest crispy?). drain on paper towels. if you cooked until it’s crispy, simply crumble it into smaller pieces. if you like softer bacon, you may need to cut it with a knife. set aside.
- discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease. if you’re making this vegetarian, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet.
- add the corn, garlic, and crushed red pepper to the skillet. sauté it for just a few minutes until the corn all turns bright yellow and the garlic is cooked.
- put about 2/3 of the corn mixture into the food processor with the romano cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil. pulse for about 15 – 20 seconds until the mixture is almost smooth. set aside, along with the reserved corn kernels left in the skillet.
- cook the pasta, making sure to stop cooking it once it’s al dente (it will absorb liquid from the pesto). before you drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. while the pasta is cooking, i like to put a measuring cup with a handle or a mug in the colander to remind me to save some water before i dump it all out.
- put the pasta back in the pot and add the pesto, corn kernels, and 2/3 of the basil ribbons. gently stir and add in reserved pasta water in 1/4 cup increments as needed until it reaches your preferred consistency.
- serve immediately, with remaining basil ribbons, bacon (if you like), and extra romano cheese alongside.