At the height of the summer corn season, I often feel like I'm up to my ears in ears. Strands of corn silk hide in various corners of my kitchen. Every time I open my CSA box, I'm horrified to see more corn. Just when I get rid of all of my tomatoes and zucchini, armies of husked soldiers descend upon my house. This is when you have to turn to food blogs, websites and magazines for inspiration. Luckily for me, during the height of this corny panic attack, an issue of Bon Appetit arrived at my door telling me, "Everything is going to be alright. We feel your pain and we can help."
Tagliatelle with Corn Pesto
Makes 6 servings. Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 tbsp olive oil
4 slices turkey bacon, sliced in half lengthwise, then crosswise in 1/2" pieces
4 cups corn kernels (about 6 ears-worth of corn)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.25 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup olive oil
8 oz pappardelle
3/4 cup basil, torn, divided
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon until crisp and brown, then transfer to paper towels. Add corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to pan and saute until corn is tender, but not browned. Reserve 1.5 cups of the corn in a small bowl.
Place the remaining corn into a food processor. Add Parmesan and pine nuts. Blend this mixture until it is well combined. Stream in olive oil until the pesto is smooth.
Cook pasta in salted water in a large pot until just al dente. Reserve 1.5 cups of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta back into the pot along with pesto, corn, 1/2 cup basil, and bacon. Toss mixture together over medium heat until ingredients are evenly distributed. Add in pasta water, if necessary, 1/4 cup at a time until pasta and sauce are at the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with remaining basil and Parmesan to taste.
This is one of the most creative ways I've seen corn used. It could have become cornbread, succotash, corn relish, corn on the cob, or corn chowder, but instead it made a delightfully summery entree. Sauteing the corn caramelizes it a bit and brings out a lovely sweetness. Combine this with the fragrant pine nuts and some salty Parmesan and it gives the pasta a beautiful golden color. The taste was incredible, allowing the corn to shine without making you feel like you just dumped some kernels on some macaroni and called it a day. I think this dish is very elegant with a lot of subtle simplicity that makes it a wonderful treat after a long, hot summer day. And it also goes to show you - you can make pesto out of pretty much anything. Buon appetito!