On Your Table: Take corn beyond the cobb

Try pasta with a creamy corn sauce and summer vegetables

By Cathy BranciaroliFood Correspondent, The Times

Enjoy corn pureed and used as a sauce over pasta dressed with fresh summer vegetables.

Enjoy corn pureed and used as a sauce over pasta dressed with fresh summer vegetables.

The saying goes that corn should be “knee high by the fourth of July”. Well this year’s crop certainly has surpassed that standard here in the midst of August. Today, driving down a rolling country road here in Chester County, a sea of hugely tall corn splendid with lush green stalks and feathery tassels enveloped my car. The plantings were so thick that it was impossible to see the individual rows, almost like in the movie “Field of Dreams.”

The farmer told me that each stalk bears only 1-2 ears of corn. The ones in his field are being raised for animal feed. Luckily at SIW Vegetables near Chadds Ford where we get our weekly CSA share, heirloom varieties meant for people eating are ripe now, including bicolored corn, a real treat if you can find some at a local farmers’ market.

Corn tells you everything by its husk. If the husk is green and hasn’t dried out, the ear of corn is still ripe. Corn’s silk threads also indicate ripeness. They should cling to the kernels, and the kernels should be plump. More corn knowledge — On average, an ear of corn has 800 kernels in 16 rows, but it will always have an even number of rows on each cob. For each kernel of corn on an ear, you will find an equal number of strands of corn silk (That amounts to about 800 strands of silk when you shuck).

At the beginning of corn season, nibbling on kernels straight from the cob is addictive and necessary, I enjoy soaking them in the husks (silks removed) for a few hours then grilling them for 6-8 minutes over a hot flame, which essentially steams but chars them and leaves behind a smoky flavor. To serve, just pull back the husks, and add a dab of butter plus a dash of salt to complete the experience.

But now, after weeks of such enjoyment, I needed something different and tried a corn sauce with pasta recipe inspired by New York Times food writer Melissa Clark. A pasta dish sounds sort of out of season, but the sauce produces a sweet summery flavor. The starchy nature of the kernels is brought out by pulsing in the blender, and they become a silky puree. Unlike in her recipe, I added light cream for some richness. I also grilled the corn and added grilled scallions along with my usual medley of Italian seasonings. Cherry tomatoes cut into quarters competed the summer feast.

Pasta with Creamy Corn Sauce

(Inspired by New York Times)


1 pound box farfalle or other dried pasta

1 bunch scallions grilled and thinly sliced

2 ears of corn grilled, shucked and removed from cob

¼ cup light cream

2 tbs olive oil

½ -1 dozen cherry tomatoes cut in quarters

Basil leaves, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and grated parmesan to taste



Grill corn and scallions. Cut off corn kernels and slice scallions. Reserve ¼ cup kernels for topping. Season and set aside. Place corn kernels in blender or food processor with cream. Pulse till you have a rich sauce, adding more cream as needed. Prepare farfalle or other pasta per package directions. Place hot/drained pasta in a hot skillet with a little olive oil and toss. Add corn sauce to heat it. Remove from heat and add scallions, cherry tomatoes and basil. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Can be served hot or at room temperature.


Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats

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