Corn, better known to the Mesoamerican peoples as maize, is ubiquitous. Over 332 million metric tons of it are grown annually in the United States. It's in our fuel, our plastics, our medicine, our alcohol and we get A LOT of it in our CSA share. I've made corn salad, corn salsa and corn on the cob. But using corn as a "pesto" is a little bit more creative and it's easy to make. Fresh ingredients are key-- so find the best summer corn and the freshest pasta and you'll really enjoy this seasonal favorite.
The original recipe calls for bacon and "it's drippings." I'm a vegetarian so I omitted the bacon. As a substitute for the oink, oink, my good friend and fellow blogger, Kathryn L. of Cooking Inside the Box, recommends using smoking salts because they "give it [the dish] the smokey flavor of bacon"--- so don't be shy, give it a try!
This recipe makes 4-5 entree size portions.
As they say in Italy, bon appetito!
Tagliatelle with Fresh Corn Pesto (Adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2010)
4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil for sauteing the corn (first step, see below)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for adding to corn mixture once it is in the food processor)
8 ounces tagliatelle or fettuccine
3/4 cup coarsely torn fresh basil leaves, divided
PreparationCut corn from ears and heat in a large fry pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. (I cut mine in a colander in order to avoid 'corn gone wild.') Add garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer 1 1/2 cups corn kernels to small bowl and reserve. Scrape remaining corn mixture into food processor. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan and pine nuts. With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube and blend until pesto is almost smooth. Set pesto aside.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and 1/2 cup basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with additional parmesan and julienned basil leaves.