Can I share a fear with you? I am afraid that corn and tomato season is almost over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall with its cool weather, pretty displays of nature, and pumpkins. But corn and tomato season sends my heart aflutter and makes me do things like eat tomatoes at every meal and make enough corn and black bean salsa to fill a 5-gallon bucket.
So while there is still corn left, please make this pesto. It is a revelation, and I don’t use that word lightly. Gently cooked corn is pureed and mixed with pine nuts, parmesan, and topped with chopped bacon and basil. It is so thick and creamy that I contemplated eating it with a spoon like pudding (okay, maybe I actually did that). The corn is super sweet, the bacon and cheese are salty, and tomatoes add just enough acid to balance the whole dish.
While we served this over pasta as the recipe suggested, it would also be excellent spread on crusty bread, or eaten with a spoon for breakfast. Seriously, it is that good.
Adapted from Epicurious
4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces spaghetti
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters if very large)
Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain and roughly chop. Pour off all but 1 tbls bacon drippings from skillet. Add corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Reserve 1 1/2 cups corn kernels in small bowl and put the remaining corn mixture into a food processor or blender. Add grated Parmesan and pine nuts and pulse to combine. Add olive oil through feed tube in a thin stream with machine running and blend until pesto is almost smooth, set aside.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and the 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. This definitely made a very thick pesto that needed some thinning. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the bacon. Divide the cherry tomatoes among each serving.
Serve hot, with additional grated Parmesan as desired. Serves 6 as a main course.