This may be the last weekend of the official summer season in the Hamptons, but as far as I’m concerned, summer isn’t over until the corn and tomatoes are gone and pumpkin mania takes over. September is a particularly magical month in the Hamptons, because for a few weeks, the weather seems to be absolutely perfect every day, and there are no packed beaches or traffic jams to accompany it. It’s hands-down my favorite month of year here. So, in honor of the winding down of the insanity that is the Hamptons in August, and the warm weeks ahead, I wanted to share my all-time favorite late-summer dinner: Spaghetti with Sweet Corn Pesto.
What is sweet corn pesto, you ask? Let me explain. It’s a sauce that made the same way as traditional basil pesto, but with a few major differences. Instead of basil and pine nuts, I sauté fresh corn with some smashed garlic and blend it all together with Parmesan and olive oil to make a sauce that’s creamy, subtly sweet and savory.
I love this pasta for so many reasons. It is a unique and heavenly way to use these superstar summer veggies, and a dish that is as impressive as it is simple. The pasta warms the tomatoes just enough to bring out their sweetness, and the panko crumbs toasted with red pepper flakes add just little bit of heat and crunch to each bite. I love having lot of different textures in the same dish, and this recipe has that nailed.
And for me, this recipe also means slowing down and getting back in the kitchen after months of grilling and throwing together simple sides and salads. With sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and basil, this recipe is as summery as it gets, but it’s also a hearty and comforting dinner -perfect for early September nights with the first discernible chill in the air. Make this over the long weekend if it’s getting cool where you are, and serve the pasta in big bowls with red wine. I promise you’ll be happy you did.
Spaghetti with Sweet Corn Pesto
- Extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup panko (Japanese bread flakes)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3½ cups fresh corn kernels cut (from about 6 ears of corn)
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife and peeled
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half through the stem
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
- First, make the spicy breadcrumbs. In a large (12-inch) sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the panko, crushed red pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring very often, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the panko is golden brown. Remove to a small bowl to cool.
- Wipe out the sauté pan with a paper towel, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, and heat over medium-low heat. Add the corn, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove ½ cup of the corn kernels and set aside. Transfer the rest of the corn and the garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Add 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and process until coarsely pureed. With the food processor running, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and process until smooth. Add the Parmesan and pulse until just combined.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a full rolling boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, then add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the box. While the pasta cooks, wipe out the sauté pan again. Transfer the corn pesto to the pan, add 1/4 cup of pasta water, and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until smooth. (Add another 1/4 cup pasta water if the pesto is still very thick.)
- When the pasta is finished cooking, use tongs to transfer it to the sauté pan (do not drain!) and toss it with the sauce. Add the cherry tomatoes and reserved corn kernels and toss again. Serve the pasta in bowls, topped with spicy breadcrumbs and torn basil.Copyright 2019, Lidey Heuck, All Rights Reserved