There is nothing more delicious than perfectly velvety essence of corn, which is exactly what this sauce for pasta delivers. Adapted from a Melissa Clark offering in the NY Times, it is a perfect dish for late summer.
Makes 5-6 servings
6 ears of corn (very fresh–the best way to tell is to feel the tassels at the end, if they have dried out the corn is getting old), taken off the cob.
2 shallots, very finely chopped
1 T of olive oil
1 T of butter (can substitute 1 T. of olive oil, if vegan or out of butter)
hot sauce (whatever brand you like)
Salt and pepper
1 cup of water (or, if you prefer, chicken stock)
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of small to medium shaped pasta (penne regatta, orechiette, farfelle, etc.)
fresh basil leaves for garnish (you can substitute fried sage leaves as autumn is approaching)
grated parmesan for serving (optional)
- Heat the 1 T of olive oil in a large skillet (that has a lid) or similar wide somewhat deep pan with lid over medium low heat.
- Add the shallots and saute until quite soft, stirring often (3-5 minutes).
- Add 3/4 or a bit more of the corn to the pan along with 2/3 cup of the water (or stock) and a generous pinch of salt.
- Increase the heat to medium and cover. The corn will cook very quickly and so you should check and stir every minute or two until the corn is just tender. Remove from the heat.
- Place the corn/shallot mixture, along with some of the pan liquid into a blender. You will need to do this in batches. Remove the clear cap on the lid of the blender and instead hold a folded up paper towel over the hole as you work (so the lid doesn’t blow off from the heat).
- Puree the mixture on your blender’s highest setting for several minutes–turning the blender off periodically so you don’t overheat the motor. Test the puree to make sure it is really smooth–this will take longer to accomplish than you think.
- Put each batch of pureed corn into pan that can be reused for reheating when ready to serve.
- Taste the puree to check for thickness. It should be thick enough to coat the pasta but not so think it seems like grits. If it is too thick, add more of the remaining liquid. (An alternative is to add a small amount of the pasta cooking water just before you serve.)
- Add salt, if needed and a few shakes of a few shakes of hot sauce and stir to mix.
- When all the cooked corn has been pureed, wipe out the pan and add the T of butter, and melt over low heat. Add the remaining corn kernels and saute until they are cooked (2-3 minutes). If you want them to look a bit charred, turn up the heat to high briefly at the very end, but watch carefully as they brown quickly.
- Add the corn kernels to the sauce.
- When ready to serve, heat a large pot of salted water to cook the pasta, according to the package directions.
- When done, place the pasta in a large bowl and top with the sauce, mixing thoroughly.
- Thinly slice the basil by rolling it up like a cigar and cutting crosswise, and sprinkle over the pasta.
- Finish with a generous grinding of black pepper and parmesan (if you wish).