Our CSA share the last few weeks has included amazing sweet corn that I’ve gobbled up with glee each week. We’ve had it boiled, roasted, and raw, and now with the addition of this spur-of-the-moment pasta dish, also in a pesto! Read on for my recipe for this Gemelli with Pesto, Corn, and Bacon.
In this week’s share we got a big bunch of basil, enough to turn into pesto, so I knew immediately that we were having pasta with pesto sauce for dinner. I have a basil plant growing (well, barely growing is probably more accurate) on my windowsill, but I usually only use its leaves sparingly so as not to strip the plant completely bare. The amount of basil needed to make pesto sauce is shocking! I used the entire bunch we got, which broke down into about 3 overflowing cups full, to make just enough pesto for 1 pound of pasta. It’s crazy! But totally worth it once you taste it . . .
Making pesto is incredibly easy assuming you have a food processor. I have one of those mini ones and it’s totally enough for this job. You just put some garlic cloves and pine nuts in with the basil leaves and let ‘er rip! Drizzle in some olive oil to hold it all together and you’re done.
As I mentioned, I made this to use my CSA ingredients, so my corn was cut from the cobb from fresh corn. If you’re going to make this in the winter, you can easily use frozen corn, just account for that in the cooking time!
I rendered the bacon for several minutes to get it to release most of the fat, then drained out the fat and added the corn to quickly saute. When you do this, you definitely need to drain out that fat, or you’ll end up with something disgustingly greasy instead of light and refreshing! When you drain the fat out though, you should reserve it at least until you mix everything together. I ended up adding some of the fat back in as the final step to moisten everything and help the ingredients speak to eachother.
Every spoonful of this pasta yells summer fun to me: the basil, the delightful pop of corn kernels in your mouth, and the salty taste of crispy bacon. We made ours extra-spicy with more garlic, but the recipe I’m giving here should yield only a moderate garlic burn. Enjoy!
Gemelli with Pesto, Corn, and Bacon
- 1 pound gemelli or other pasta
- 2 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off
- 3 packed cups basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 4 strips bacon, roughly chopped
- Olive oil
Set the pasta water to boil while you prepare the pesto. Put basil, garlic, and pine nuts into food processor and pulse to chop. When pesto looks almost right but still a bit coarse, drizzle in olive oil a bit at a time, then pulse to mix again. Use as much olive oil, pulsing after each adding, as it takes to create a thick chimichurri-like texture. Salt and pepper to taste (pesto should taste strong, it will be less strong in the dish). Leave pesto in processor for later.
In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add bacon to pan. Render bacon for about 5 minutes, until most of the fat is released. Drain and reserve the fat, leaving bacon in pan. Add corn to pan and saute for 2 minutes to heat up kernels. Turn off burner.
When pasta is ready, drain it out and add it to the bacon pan. Add pesto on top. Quickly stir to coat pasta with pesto and mix in bacon and corn. If necessary, drizzle in some of the reserved fat to add moisture to the mix (you can substitute pasta water for this step if you want to cut down on the calories). Taste for salt and pepper again. Note that depending on how salty your bacon is, it may not need any additional salt! Serve immediately.