When summertime hits, I cannot get enough fresh corn. On weekends, farmers park their trucks by the side of the road in my hometown and prop up make-shift “corn for sale” signs, selling ears that they picked early that morning. Sweet, juicy, with a satisfying crunch, sweet corn simply can’t be beat.
While corn on the cob is probably the purest way to enjoy the seasonal vegetable, it’s also nice to turn it into a quick and easy main meal. This creamy pasta keeps fresh sweet corn front and center where it belongs. A simple sauce of corn, cream, garlic, shallot, and Parmesan comes together very quickly, with red pepper flakes adding a touch of heat and fresh lemon and parsley keeping things bright.
Creamy corn pasta sits somewhere between creamed corn and mac and cheese, while being lighter and more satisfying than either dish. Ready in under 30 minutes, it’s an excellent summertime main course. Serve it simply with a summer salad, a veggie side, or some grilled fish, shrimp, or chicken for a well-rounded meal.
Tips for Cutting Corn Off the Cob
There are plenty of hacks for removing corn from the cob, since the newly freed kernels like to bounce around your kitchen and make a small mess. If you have a bundt pan handy, try sticking the pointy end of the ear in the center hole and running your knife down the sides. The rounded pan will catch most of the kernels.
My bundt pan is often out of reach, so I use a lazier method. I place a shallow bowl or plate in the sink and hold the corn by the stalk end with the pointy end resting perpendicular to the plate. I run the knife down the ear, slicing off the kernels, and rotating the ear as I go. The sink will catch any mess, but feel free to move to the countertop if it feels more stable.
Regardless of your method, don’t forget to run the backside of your knife down the entire ear after you slice off the kernels. This will release the juicy interior, the most flavorful part of the corn that also helps make the sauce creamy.
Picking a Pasta Shape
Large tube pasta or shapes with some twists and turns work best for creamy corn pasta since they’ll successfully trap the corn and the sauce, giving you flavor in every bite. I like tubular shapes like rigatoni, crinkly shapes like farfalle (also known as bowties), or shells (conchiglie). Orecchiette and penne are also good choices.
If you have fresh or homemade pasta like pappardelle, by all means use it. You can even use the creamy corn sauce to top cheese ravioli.
- Spicy: Up the red pepper flakes to your taste or swap for Calabrian chili paste.
- No alcohol: While all the alcohol cooks off during cooking, you can swap it for vegetable broth or water if you’d prefer an alternative.
- Bacon: Add cooked, crumbled bacon at the end for a meaty addition and salty bite.
- Frozen or canned corn: This recipe will not be as good since the flavor and texture of fresh corn can’t be beat, but you can swap the fresh corn for frozen (no need to defrost first) or drained canned corn.
Make It a Complete Meal with Any of These
Fresh Corn Pasta
This recipe can easily be doubled if you want to cook a pound of dry pasta to made 4 to 6 servings.
8 ounces dry pasta, such as rigatoni, farfalle, or conchiglie
3 ears fresh sweet corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water and to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Cook the pasta:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and season generously with salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Reserve a cup of pasta water just before draining.
Meanwhile, remove the corn form the cob:
Shuck the corn, discarding the husks and removing as much of the silks as possible.
Set a large, shallow bowl in the sink. Hold a shucked ear of corn by the stalk end and position it upright with the tapered end steadied against the bottom of the bowl. Use a large knife to shave the corn kernels from the cob, working in long strips down towards the bottom of the bowl.
Once all the kernels are removed, run the back of the knife down the entire ear using the same motion. This will remove any creamy juice left behind on the cob which gives the pasta lots of flavor. Repeat with the remaining ears of corn.
Make the sauce:
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallot and sauté until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the corn and their juices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the red pepper flakes. Stir. Add the white wine and simmer until most of it has cooked off, about 2 minutes.
Add the cream and bring to a low simmer, reducing the heat as needed. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.
Finish the sauce and toss with the pasta:
Add the Parmesan to the sauce a little at a time, stirring each time to ensure it melts. Add the parsley, reserving a small handful for garnish. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
Add the drained pasta and 1/3 cup of reserved pasta water to the sauce. Increase the heat to medium and toss continuously until all of the pasta is coated and the sauce is clinging to the pasta. If needed, add more pasta water, a tablespoon or so at a time, and keep tossing until you have a creamy sauce.
Garnish and serve:
Taste the pasta, adding more salt and red pepper flakes, if needed. Spoon onto plates or into bowls and top with the remaining parsley. Serve immediately.
This pasta is best eaten fresh, but leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or in a nonstick skillet, adding a splash or 2 of water or cream to loosen the sauce.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 2 to 3|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 30g||38%|
|Saturated Fat 13g||66%|
|Total Carbohydrate 50g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||16%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 16mg||81%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|