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Pesto & Corn Pasta Salad

Pesto & Corn Pasta Salad

This recipe came about the way a lot of them do in my kitchen: E asked if we could have pesto pasta for dinner and I said yes (she likes to know what to look forward to while she slaves away at her computer). Then on the way home from a short business trip I noticed that my favorite farm stand was flying the CORN banner for the first time this summer and, as a midwestern boy, I love my corn: I bought a half-dozen ears. Now the problem was: how to meet E's expectations for pesto while incorporating the corn. As I drove home from the farm stand I was mulling this problem over: corn, pasta, pesto...and I remembered the Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven recipe for corn and pasta salad. I made a few adjustments et voila: Corn Pesto Pasta Salad. This is the way recipes are created: each one with a lineage that goes back hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and with a list of cousins and ancestors a mile long...

Pesto and Corn Pasta Salad...adapted from Corn and Pasta Salad by Sheryl Julien and Julie Riven, The Way We Cook.

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
8 oz orecchiette pasta shells ("little ears")
6 ears fresh corn
3 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
2 T pine nuts
1/4 C shredded parmeggiano reggiano cheese
2 T shredded Romano cheese
2 T butter, softened
1 rib celery, sliced
2" cucumber, cut in 1/8" x 1/8" strips
1 tomato, diced
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
hot sauce, to taste
1/4 C olive oil
1 slice red onion, finely chopped
4 large scallions, chopped
1/2 C fresh basil
1/2 C fresh oregano
romaine lettuce leaves

Remove corn kernels from the cob: shuck the corn, cut each cob in half and then, placing the cut surface of the half-cob on the cutting board, shave the kernels off with a sharp knife, rotating the cob as you remove the kernels.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Add the pasta shells, and when the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 8 minutes. Add the corn and cook for 2 minutes more, or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite.

Drain corn and pasta in a colander, shaking it to remove the excess moisture. Transfer the shells and corn to a large bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Make pesto: place the herbs, scallions, remaining salt, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts in a food processor bowl and, in a few bursts, process until roughly chopped. Turn the mixture into a bowl and mix in the cheeses, the butter and the hot sauce.

Add the pesto to the pasta / corn mixture, along with the vinegar, the red onion, the celery and the cucumber. Mix well; correct seasoning

To serve, place salad on a bed of the romaine lettuce leaves, top with tomatoes and garnish with basil and oregano sprigs.


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