Summer food to me is all about produce– strawberries, stone fruit, tomatoes, corn. The season brings some of my favorite flavors, and also colors! People always talk about eating with your eyes first, but I think that’s particularly true this time of year.
So once in a while, I like to skip the protein and really let the produce shine. This pasta is summer in a bowl for me. Sweet yellow corn, ruby red tomatoes and bright, peppery basil are the stars, with parmesan and pine nuts adding just enough fat. Rather than cook the tomatoes, I like to stir them into the hot pasta. They release just enough juice to create a thin sauce, resulting in a dish that’s light, but so satisfying.
A quick word on the pasta itself— This recipe calls for egg fettuccine. (De Cecco* makes my favorite!) Dried egg pasta is more absorbent than regular dried pasta, so it will soak up the juices of these lighter ingredients for a more flavorful dish! You can of course use regular dried fettuccine, or any other noodle for that matter. Just reduce the amount of cooking water you use to about ¼ of a cup, adding more as needed.
- 1 pound dried egg fettuccine
- 1 cup frozen grilled corn (Trader Joe’s has a good one!)
- 1 ½ cups baby San Marzano tomatoes (or similar), quartered lengthwise
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 full sprigs fresh basil (about 12-15 large leaves), plus more for garnish
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- good extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
Fill a large pasta pot just over halfway up with water. Salt it generously and bring to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts. Place them in a large, dry skillet (nonstick if you have) over medium heat, stirring occasionally. They will need five minutes or so, but keep a close eye on them because once you smell them, they’re burnt! Remove the nuts from the pan when they are golden brown and set aside.
Cook the pasta just shy of al dente— about two minutes short of its suggested cooking time. When it’s ready, don’t drain the water! Instead, use tongs to transfer the noodles to your skillet over medium heat. If a little pasta water spills in, no worries! Add the corn, tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese and about ½ cup of the leftover cooking water. Toss vigorously with tongs for about two minutes to aerate the pasta, creating a little bit of a thin sauce. Stop when the pasta is al dente. Most of the water will be absorbed or evaporate. You can always add more if needed. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point, the mixture should be the tiniest bit wet— the hot noodles will continue to absorb liquid while you plate. Garnish with basil and serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese!
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