I do love to read The New York Times (NYT). And don’t get me started on their Sunday crossword. The Eldest Progeny and I tend to share that joy whenever he’s around, but every other Sunday, it’s mine. All mine. I am actually getting to a point here. Everyday, the nice people over at the NYT deliver their cooking “section” right into my email. Isn’t that nice of them? Well, this past week they posted a recipe for Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil. It caught my eye because, I love corn and basil together. And, I had a couple of ears of Microwaved Sweet Corn leftover from a couple of days ago, so this is an idea for you to use up leftovers.And I had pasta. I had corn. I had scallions. I had basil and mint. And I had tomatoes. Alright, you got me. I can never leave a recipe alone, but in my defense, I was using leftovers here. Okay? Besides, I think corn, tomatoes and basil make an excellent combination, don’t you? Think Tomato-Corn Chowder….
Anyway, I had 2 ears of cooked sweet corn, tucked in the fridge. You can see how to microwave corn in their husks here–do check it out. It’s delicious and simple. I was going to use the corn in a salad, that didn’t get made. The NYT recipe calls for uncooked corn, but why not use cooked corn and improvise? Anyway, I think it’s easier to microwave the corn and go from there. You are also going to slice the white part of the scallions and set those aside. Then you’ll slice the green parts of the scallions and set those aside. Read the recipe and you’ll understand why. So I cooked the white part of the scallions and the cooked corn together from the start. I puréed the mixture in the food processor, as I wanted to keep some of the texture. It probably wasn’t as creamy as the NYT version, but I liked. If you want creamier, then use the blender. The recipe suggested letting the butter brown when you’re doing the final sauté just before you toss in the pasta. Do it. You won’t regret it. It adds a lovely toasted flavor. Then, toss in the pasta, with about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid; cook the pasta for a couple of minutes. I add the tomato and herbs, then turn the burner off and just stir them in. The herbs have a very nice fresh quality, because they aren’t really cooked.Also, do remember to under-cook the pasta. It should still have just a hint of rawness, when you drain it, as you are finishing it in the sauce. So here’s their recipe, with the changes that reflect the alterations I made to both the ingredients and the method.
Pasta with Creamy Corn, Tomato and Herbs
- 12 ounces dry orecchiette or farfalle (I used orecchiette)
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 7-8 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (whites and greens kept separate)
- 2 large ears cooked corn on the cob, kernels removed (about 2 cups kernels)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more for serving
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste
- 1/3-1/2 cup meaty, diced tomato (remove as many seeds as possible)
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped or torn basil
- 2-3 tablespoons coarsely chopped or torn mint, more for garnish
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Fresh lemon juice, as needed (I used about 1 tablespoon)
- Fine sea salt
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente, according to the package directions (it was about 6 minutes for Barilla). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil, white part of the scallions, the corn, the red pepper flakes and a couple of large pinches of salt. Cook until the onions soften, 3-4 minutes. Add half the black pepper. Remove 1/3 cup of the mixture; set aside. Transfer the remaining mixture to a blender or food processor; purée mixture until almost smooth. You may need to add a little extra water; the mixture should be thick, but pourable (see NOTE).
Heat the same skillet over high heat. Add the butter; let it begin to brown a bit for better, deeper flavor. Add the puréed mixture along with the reserved corn and cook for 30 seconds to heat and combine the flavors.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the pasta and half the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing to coat. Cook for 1 minute, adding a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. Stir in 1/3 cup of the scallion greens, the diced tomato, the Parmesan, the herbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining black pepper.
Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over; stir well. Transfer to warm pasta bowls and garnish with more scallions, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and additional black pepper.
NOTE: You will have about 1/3-1/2 cup of the green part of the scallions. Reserve some for garnish if you wish; I tossed them all in with the pasta/corn mixture. I used the food processor to purée the mixture, but I left the texture somewhat coarse, by choice. If you want it to be completely smooth, then the blender may work best for you. I highly recommend using both basil and mint. It is a lovely and refreshing flavor combination. This is wonderful as is, but I think one could certainly add sautéed shrimp, scallops, crab meat or crumbled bacon, if one would be so inclined. Some diced zucchini might be good, as well. I think this requires lots of black pepper and don’t skimp on the salt. I salt the pasta, not the cooking water.
Heavily adapted from The New York Times Cooking Section. The original recipe is here.
I would imagine one could use gluten-free pasta for this; I’m thinking corn pasta. Are you seeing a theme with that…. The remaining ingredients are certainly gluten-free. Let me know how it works for you, if you try it.
I will absolutely be adding this version of their recipe to my ongoing repertoire. This is summer in a bowl.