Charred leeks, pancetta, and sweet summer corn combine together in this quick, summer recipe for orecchiette pasta with leeks and corn crema.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and swirl it around. Add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, and saute for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the wine and bring to boil, then add 1 1/2 cups of corn. (Reserve remaining corn.) Simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the crema gets too thick and seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
Transfer the corn mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, add a bit of water if needed.
Wipe down the pan, put it back on the heat on medium, and then add the oil for the leeks. Add the pancetta to pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the pancetta is browned.
Add the leeks and char them for 4 minutes. Add the reserved corn kernels, then pour the crema into the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer before taking it off the heat. If using, add the red pepper flakes and lemon zest now as well.
Fill a large pot with water and put it over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add a heaping spoonful of kosher salt and then pour in the pasta. Cook the pasta to package directions.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
Add the pasta and the cooking water to the pan with the corn and leeks. Toss the pasta with the sauce and cook for 1 minute, or until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta.
Serve the pasta with shredded parmesan and sliced basil.