Summer or winter I love comfort food, but slow cooked stews are best left to winter time, so here is a recipe for summer comfort food which takes advantage of fresh corn to make a very summery pasta sauce. And this recipe for pasta with leeks and corn crema is a great weeknight meal you can have on the table in about 30 minutes!
We’re moving into summer full steam around here! And that has me thinking about all sorts of fresh, seasonal recipes using summer’s bounty.
One of my favorite summer vegetables is fresh corn. All through June and into July, we wait for our local farm to put up the ‘Corn Is In’ sign. Once we see it, it’s time to eat All The Corn. On the cob, in salads, in fresh corn gazpacho, and made into a pasta sauce.
How to Make Pasta with Leeks and Corn Crema
There are three main parts to this recipe – making the crema, charring the leeks, and combining everything together in a harmonious whole.
Since everything goes fast once you start, I would suggest getting all (or at least most) of the prep work done before you begin cooking. Chop the leeks, cut the corn off the cobs, dice the onion and garlic, and lay out the rest of the ingredients.
For the corn crema, start by sauteing the onion and garlic. Once they are soft and browned, deglaze with some white wine, and then you will want to add about 2/3 of your corn kernels. (Around 1 1/2 cups.) Simmer everything together for a few minutes and then into the blender, with a little water if needed. You want the crema to be thick, but not so thick it won’t blend. 🙂
For the corn I have a bit of advice: Use fresh if you can. I’ve tried both fresh and frozen and fresh does make a difference. We enjoyed the dish made with frozen corn, but kept saying how we really loved it with fresh corn.
Once your corn crema is done, wash off the pan and start browning the pancetta. Give that a few minutes, then add the leeks and get them good and charred.
Add your reserved corn kernels, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and the corn crema and let it all simmer for a bit. Then add your pasta and some pasta water and bring it all together! A minute, maybe two and dinner is done. You have yummy pasta with leeks and pancetta and corn! Sprinkle some parmesan over and top with sliced basil.
How to Cut Corn off the Cob Neatly
Do you have corn kernels skittering all over the place when you cut them off the cob? Does the dog get more corn than you since it all fell on the floor?
If you answered yes to these questions, I have an answer for you! I learned this years ago and it really makes a difference.
And the answer is a cheap bundt pan. One like this bundt pan. The common bundt you see in grocery stores and housewares stores. One you can probably go out and buy tomorrow to the tune of about 10 dollars. Too much for something to cut corn kernels? Well, you can also make cake! 😀
The way you use it is that you brace the cob in the center of bundt (so that the stalk of the cob goes into the hole in the middle) and then cut down and all the kernels collect in the bowl of bundt pan. Done! No fuss, no muss.
The dog will be sad, but you can always toss her a couple of kernels if you feel too guilty. (Or is it only my dog who loves corn?)
More Quick Pasta Recipes:
- Simple and Quick Anchovy Garlic and Lemon Pasta
- Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
- Penna alla Vodka with Chicken and Chorizo
- Orecchiette with Cauliflower and Pine Nuts
- Pasta with Summery Raw Tomato Sauce
If you try my recipe for Orecchiette Pasta with Leeks, Pancetta, and Corn Crema, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! You can connect with me by subscribing to my emails (see the form in the sidebar or below the recipe card), liking my FACEBOOK page, or by following me on PINTEREST.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Orecchiette Pasta with Leeks, Pancetta, and Corn Crema
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 ears corn, kernels removed, about 2 1/4 cups kernels
- 1/2 cup white wine
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 oz pancetta
- 2 medium leeks, white and very light green only, thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 tsp lemon zest, optional
- 12 oz orecchiette pasta
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 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. Add salt to taste.
- 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.
- Taste and add kosher salt and black pepper as needed.
- Serve the pasta with shredded parmesan and sliced basil.
- Optional ingredients: While the recipe is quite good without the lemon zest and red pepper flakes, they add a certain balance to the dish which I really enjoy. The red pepper flakes give some spice to balance the sweetness of the corn and the leeks, while the lemon zest gives it a zing which cuts through the richness of the pancetta. You may also want to add a squeeze of lemon juice as well.
- Corn: You can use frozen baby corn in the recipe, but I highly recommend fresh corn. The fresh corn has a more complex flavor and texture which improve the dish greatly.
- Inspiration: This recipe was inspired by the recipe for Fettuccine with Corn Crema and Charred Green Onions in Mastering Pasta by Marc Vetri
This recipe was SO good. It’s summer here in NZ right now so corn is in season and this was a great weeknight recipe to make good use of it. Tomorrow I’m planning to try your chicken breast with green olive gremolata 🙂 thanks for the inspiration and recipes!