In the summer we eat a lot of corn and tomatoes. We don’t have a place to grow vegetables, and I’m not a very successful gardener anyway, but that’s okay since I love going to the farmers’ market to buy produce. I attribute my love of fresh vegetables to my grandfather. I sure didn’t get them often at home. I was raised on all things boxed, canned and frozen. But my grandfather always had a garden. My grandmother may have been the traditional Southerner who cooked the vegetables all day, but at least they were fresh from the garden.
Everywhere my grandparents lived was a neighborhood with dense housing, but coming from Kansas farm country, my grandfather always found a way to have a garden. He became quite an expert at growing a variety of vegetables and berries in a very small space. Once he even confiscated the empty lot next door to their apartment to grow corn and sunflowers. His picture was in the newspaper for having such tall sunflowers. But the next year they built an office building on the lot.
Last night we weren’t very hungry. So our dinner was a lightly boiled corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes. That was it. But if you want more than that, I recently tried another good recipe combining corn and tomatoes. As is often the case, the recipe came from Bon Apetit magazine, but I have adapted it to meet our smaller serving requirements, changed it up and turned it into a main course recipe. Enjoy!
Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto
4 slices pancetta
Corn cut from 3 large ears
Clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ c freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
¼ c pine nuts, toasted
Extra virgin olive oil
4 oz fettuccine
½ chopped basil, divided
½ basket cherry tomatoes
1 boneless chicken breast, grilled (or purchased grilled chicken strips)
Cook pancetta over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of drippings from skillet. Add corn, garlic, salt and pepper to drippings in skillet. Saute over medium heat until corn is tender, but not brown, about four minutes. Transfer 1 cup of the corn to a small bowl and reserve. Scrape the remaining corn mixture into food processor. Add cheese and pine nuts. With processor running, add olive oil through feed tube and blend, until mixture is smooth and to desired consistency. Set pesto aside.
Grill or broil chicken breast (unless you’re using purchased already cooked chicken strips). Cut chicken into bite sized strips or chunks.
Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, reserving 1 c of pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot, add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels and most of the basil. Toss over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid in small amounts to thin to desired consistency. Add chicken breast strips; salt and pepper to taste. Top with crumbled pancetta, cherry tomatoes, remaining basil and shaved Parmesan cheese.