Lugging my bounty home, I got to work. I was pretty excited about corn pesto, but little did I know how addictive it would be. The ingredients are in line with traditional basil pesto: pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil. If the price of pine nuts scares you (as it normally does me), almonds would be a good substitute.
The original recipe from Bon Appetit uses bacon fat and bacon. I love the smokiness that the bacon fat offers, but I found myself imagining the dish with seafood instead of bacon. In the second go-around, I still sauteed the corn with bacon fat, but I replaced the bacon with a mixture of scallops, shrimp, and squid. It was great. (By the way, next time you make bacon, save the fat in a jar and store it in the fridge. It's a stable fat and will last for months, and it can be used sparingly to add oodles of flavor to black beans, tortillas, and any other dish you want to taste a bit smoky).
Here's the recipe; let me know if you make it and love it as much as I do. I wouldn't dare dry this with frozen corn. It just wouldn't be worth it.
Fresh Corn Pesto Pasta
Adapted from Bon Appetit August 2010
4 bacon slices, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1-2 cups seafood (shrimp, scallops, etc.)
Cook bacon over medium heat in large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and drain over paper towels; reserve fat in skillet. (If using seafood, steam and reserve).
4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Add to bacon fat and cook over medium high heat until corn is tender but not brown. Reserve 1 cup (if you want a textured pesto), and transfer the rest to food processor or blender.
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Add the Parmesan and pine nuts to the food processor, and while the machine is running, pour the olive oil through the feed tube.
8 ounces whole grain tagliatelle or fettuccine
Cook pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Toss pasta with pasta water, pesto, reserved corn, and seafood (if using). Garnish with reserved bacon (if using).
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