When someone asks for pasta and you have fresh corn in the house, it's not always the most obvious move to unite these two. After all, they're both pretty starchy. But I've figured a way around such perceived problems. And that way involves bacon, in the form of a summer BLT pasta with fresh corn.
As I was putting this dish together, I started to get a little ahead of myself, thinking about what else I could add, but dinner time does not allow for such sidetracking indulgences; only future experimentation will permit that. That being said, I'll share my imaginings with you by stating this: Think about all the things you can put on a BLT. Avocado. A slice of good kicky, assertive cheese. And nearly everything is improved by slapping an egg on it, right? Ok, that's NOT what this recipe is about, but maybe the next time I make it, I'll go that way. Here's what it is about: bringing the best of summer flavors together in a quick pasta dish that doesn't really get, nor need, much of a sauce.
- 12 ounces of pasta of your choice (I used a mini rigatoni)
- 2-3 T. unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, preferably red, diced small
- 2 ounces of pancetta or bacon, cut into small pieces with kitchen shears
- 2 ears of corn, kernels removed
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (and quartered if they are unusually large)
- 1 cup finely shredded kale
- 1/2 cup pasta water, reserved
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 10 basil leaves, clipped with kitchen shears or roughly torn with your hands
- Salt and pepper to taste; you may need less salt than you think because of the cheese
Fill a large pot with water and add several pinches of kosher salt and set it to boil.
Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium-high heat and saute the onion for 4-5 minutes until it starts to become translucent. Add the pancetta or bacon pieces and cook for 3-4 more minutes. You want these two to begin to come together; the pork product will give off some more fat and flavor the onions. At this point your water should be boiling, so add the pasta.
Add the corn and cook for a brief minute or two, as you really don't need too much time on the stove top. I like the toothsome quality of corn cooked this way; it still retains a little bit of bite. Add the tomatoes and let them cook down slightly until they start to reduce in size and give off some liquid, which will form the base of a very light sauce. Add the kale shards and toss them through until they are wilted. Turn down the heat to low.
Remove the pasta from the water, reserving 1/2 cup just in case, for sauce thickening purposes. I sometimes like to add a brief glug of olive oil to drained pasta, especially if I haven't cooked with it. I opted for butter here with the onions because I wanted that creamy quality with the corn. Add the pasta to the veggie mix on the stovetop and stir together a few times. Add Pecorino to taste—I ended up using a lot—and toss in the basil at the last minute. Taste it before you add salt and pepper; you may only need pepper, because the cheese has a salty tang.
Yield: 4-6 servings