The closer summer gets, the more I start to crave food that’s a little bit on the lighter side. My body naturally wants me to be eating whatever it is that the season is providing. And in the summer, keeping it light seems to be a common theme. But I also want to make sure its comforting at the same time. For me, a pasta dish made with super fresh ingredients of the summer offers as much comfort as a hearty, rich bolognese sauce would in the winter. For me that’s really the important thing about eating seasonally. If not for anything other than selfish reasons. I try to feed my body what it craves. In this particular instance, my body craves corn pesto with orecchietti and bacon. The reason I choose orecchietti is because they are like little bowls. Since I also mix in whole corn kernels with the corn pesto, I want my little pasta bowls to fill up with the pesto and the corn so you get that juicy pop in every bite. Cooking with love really just means thinking about the little shit while you’re cooking. That extra ounce of thought is the difference between good and great.
1 lb of Orecchietti Pasta
1 handful of fresh basil, washed
4-5 ears of Organic corn, if you buy one thing that’s organic, make it corn.
3 Cloves of garlic, sliced
5 strips of good quality bacon
1/2 – 3/4 of a cup of Pine nuts, toasted
Half of a lemon, juiced
Pecorino Romano for grating
Salt & Pepper
The thing that will take the longest in this recipe will be getting the pasta water up to a boil so put that on the stove first. Then get started on the pesto.
First, toast off the pine nuts in a dry pan just till they begin to brown a bit and give off a nutty aroma. Make sure they do not burn by tossing them around every so often.
While the nuts are working, remove the corn kernels from the ear. You do this by cutting off both top and bottom of the corn so that they can stand up straight. Then you simply cut down along the sides of the ear of corn, making sure you remove as much of the corn from the stalk as possible. Corn is the best this way, in my opinion.
When your corn is ready, slice up your cloves of garlic and also prepare your basil for the blender by plucking the leaves from the stem.
When the nuts are done, transfer them to a bowl. Then add the cut up bacon bits to the pan and slowly cook until all the fat renders out and you have crispy bacon bits to top the pasta with when the dish is finished. When it’s done, transfer it to a paper towel to let the excess oil drain out.
In the same pan you cooked the bacon in, add the corn and the sliced garlic and cook on high heat for about 5-7 minutes.
While that’s cooking, in a blender, add the basil and the pine nuts.
Right before you add the corn to the blender, juice a half a lemon to add some brightness to the corn.
Then add about half of the cooked corn to the blender and reserve the other half to mix into the pasta.
Add about a half cup of olive oil to get the pesto going, and add more if you see its a little too think to blend properly.
It should look something like this. Mine looks a little more green than normal because I only had 3 ears of corn when I should have used 4-5 but it should not affect the taste that much. The more corn you use, the more yellow the pesto will be. So don’t think you did something wrong if it doesn’t look as green as it does below.
By this time the water should be boiling. Add the pasta and cook untill its almost done, or al dente. The pasta will continue to cook even after you strain it so make sure you don’t cook it like 1 minute before its perfectly cooked.
Before you drain the water, take a coffee mug and reserve about half a cup of the starchy, salted pasta water. Italians use pasta water religiously when making their sauces (that is, if they are not making a tomato sauce). Since the water is starchy from the pasta and seasoned with salt, adding a little bit to the pesto not only helps to loosen it up and gives it body to help become a sauce, it also flavors the sauce as well.
Drain the pasta, transfer it back into the pot, then add the pesto and stir it up.
Then add in the remaining corn kernels…
…then however much pecorino romano you’d like…
…then finally the crispy bacon.
I like eating orecchietti in a shallow bowl, it just seems easier to eat that way. To plate, spoon the pasta in the bowl, grate some more cheese on top, sprinkle a couple pieces of bacon and then finish with some fresh basil. Guys, this is not hard at all and is actually delicious. It only requires a pan and a pot so clean up is easy. Please give it a shot, it’s for your own good.