Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Campanelle with Fresh Corn and Pistachio Pesto

The main reason I had children was so they could one day shuck my corn for me...

And don't worry. Despite the serious expression of his face, he really enjoys this little chore. It might take him all afternoon, but at least he is sitting still and quietly (with determination) doing something productive.

That corn he is shucking went into this delicious pasta we made for dinner. Now, I have been making a variation of this pasta for about 4 years now. The original recipe comes from an issue of Bon Appetite that I had seen while perusing the magazine stands while waiting in line at the grocery store. The unique corn pesto immediately caught my eye because it sounded like such a great idea. Paired with bacon, basil, and Parmesan cheese, this dish was sure to be a winner! The only issue I had with it is that the pine nuts are so darn expensive. I know that they are the traditional nut used to make pesto, but I thought maybe I could bring down the cost of this recipe by using another nut - and pistachios seemed ideal to me. They are slightly sweet with a mild enough flavor that would not overwhelm the pesto and scream "pistachio flavor." Rather, they would serve to complement all the other components of the finished dish.

And boy did they ever. Paul could not stop eating this pasta and Matthew was a big fan as well. It may or may not have had something to do with the bacon, but Paul declared that the pistachios made the pesto really sing.

If this sounds weird to you, just trust me. This dish is amazing. I look forward to making this every year and it will continue to be part of our summer lineup.

Campanelle with Fresh Corn and Pistachio Pesto
adapted from Bon Appetite Magazine

Note: Toss the pesto with as much pasta as you want. In the past, I have used only about 8 ounces of pasta for this recipe, but I spread it out among 16 ounces of pasta this past time and it still was awesome (especially with a lot of extra Parmesan added!).

6 slices bacon, preferably thick-sliced
6 cups fresh cut-from-the-cob sweet corn
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup roasted, salted shelled pistachios
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8-16 ounces campanelle pasta
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Cut each bacon slice in half length-wise, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.  Cook in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

Add the corn, garlic, salt and pepper to the skillet, and saute until the corn is just tender, but not brown, 3-5 minutes.  Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the corn to a small bowl and reserve.  Transfer the rest to a food processor, and add the pistachios and 1/2 cup of Parmesan.  Pulse to blend the mixture until fairly smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary. With the machine running, slowly stream the oil through the feed tube and blend until pesto is almost smooth, scraping down as needed.  Set aside.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and pasta and give it a stir. Cook pasta until just a bit firm to the bite (not quite as done as you would want it).  Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water and drain the pasta.  Return pasta to the pot and add the pesto, reserved corn kernels, reserved bacon, and 1/2 cup fresh herbs.  Toss well and add pasta water 1/4 cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached (I usually end up adding about 1/2 cup).  Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until pasta is cooked through.  Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

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