Monday, June 6, 2011

Meatless Monday: Maximum Corniness

image via wikipedia commons

Since summer is here in a big way right now in Texas, corn is in. I love the sweetness of summer corn - I add it raw to salads so it's as sugary as it can be. I ran across a corn chowder recipe in an old Saveur years ago that recommended grating the cobs with a grater or the flat side of a knife in order to get all the corny goodness out. It made the best batch of chowder I've ever had.

Texas summer definitely means that hot soup is out, but there are so many ripe vegetables right now that it's the perfect time for pastas and giant salads. I made this up on the fly to use up our bounty and was delighted with the result. It's sweet and fragrant and bursting with flavors from everything you can get your hands on from the farmer's market.

Summer Corn Pasta Recipe


  • 4 ears fresh corn
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 small head broccoli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch italian parsley
  • 4-5 leaves fresh sage 
  • 2-3 leaves fresh basil (optional)
  • 1 box baby arugula (optional)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter or 1tbsp butter and 2 tbsp bacon grease
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2-4 oz feta 
  • 1/4 tsp white sugar
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Cut kernels from two fresh ears of corn, reserving the cobs. 
  2. Dice one tomato. Set aside.
  3. On the large holes of a grater, grate two additional whole ears of corn down to the cob, over a large bowl. It'll be milky and have a lot of liquid, all of which is really flavorful, so make sure you're catching it. Repeat with reserved cobs 'til almost no corn bits remain. Set corn mush aside (separately from cut corn kernels).
  4. Cut one head of broccoli thinly along the side so that you have small, slim pieces.
  5. Finely mince two cloves of garlic. Cut a full bunch of green onions, separating the white and light green parts from the darker ends. Combine the light bits with garlic. Set aside each aside.
  6. Finely dice a few sage leaves, a handful of parsley, sage and a bit of basil or other sweet herb of your choice (if using). Add herbs to dark green onion bits.
  7. In the deep bowl you're using for the corn mush, add two cups of milk together with a half cup of flour. Whisk until smooth.
  8. Put plenty of salted water on high heat.
  9. While the water is coming to a boil, add a large pat of butter to a second, shallow saucepan on the stove and heat to medium. Add your garlic and onion mixture to the melted butter and saute for about a minute. Add plenty of fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of white sugar. 
  10. Add the flour/milk/grated corn mixture to the butter. Whisk infrequently until a thin, smooth sauce forms. Scrape the sauce into the bowl you'll use for tossing the pasta later. Crumble feta into the sauce.  
  11. Cook noodles according to package directions (it'll cook a bit in the sauce later, so al dente is best).
  12. Add a second pat of butter or bacon grease, if you have it, to the saucepan (no need to for another - just wipe it out; it's all going to the same place) and heat to medium high. When the foam subsides, grate in black pepper and add the broccoli. Cook for about one minute, adding a pinch of salt during cooking. Add the cut corn kernels and saute a minute further. Add onion and herb mixture and reduce heat to very low. Add sauce, thinning with a bit of milk if necessary. 
  13. Drain pasta and immediately stir into the sauce/veg mixture. Add chopped tomatoes and stir.Taste. I used about 2 oz of feta at first, but added another two after trying it. Add whatever amount floats your boat until the mixture is a good combination of sweet and salty. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. If using, add the arugula as you plate it. A handful under each serving wilts just enough from the heat of the pasta. Serve with a huge, tangy green salad.

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