Corn, Tomatoes and Basil, the holy trinity of Late Summer, with Pasta

hash

Monday:                              Barbecued Brisket Hash, Green Salad

pasta

Tuesday:                              Pasta with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil, Green Salad

Wednesday:                      Dunnings Meeting

Chard

Swiss Chard

Thursday:                            Stone Harbor, M and H’s House – Seared Salmon, Swiss Chard with Shallots and Mushrooms

Tomato bread on counter

Tomato Toast and Apps on Counter at H & M’s in Stone Harbor

Friday:                                  Pasta with Sweet Corn and Adriatic Grilled Shrimp, Tomato Toast

(If you go to the Spiagetta Website, you’ll get some footage of downtown Stone Harbor)

Saturday:                             Stone Harbor – Spiaggeta Restaurant

Boodles

My favorite every-day gin – available at Fred’s in Stone Harbor, but not in Pittsburgh

Sunday:                                Avalon – Marie Nicole’s Restaurant

(Forgot to take picture – Mere’s dinner – with Rick, Jimmy I. and myself managing the grill and H handling the seating, the drinks and the general conversation)

Monday:                              Stone Harbor – Cookout at M and H’s:  Mere’s Baked Beans – spectacular

Our cooking last week was skewed by a trip to Stone Harbor and a wonderful stay at H & M’s place with H & M, Rick and Annie, and our son, Andrew.  We had some fine meals out and some fine meals in, but spent most of our time walking, reading, golfing, reminiscing, laughing and sleeping (SWMBO and Annie sun-bathed).  The result is that I’m a bit hazy on the details, but I do remember a new way to cook pasta that takes advantage of the bounty we are still harvesting at the end of summer.  I share that dish, Pasta with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil below.

But first, a few notes about golf courses,* the beach, and food.  Golf courses are, just after Redwood Forests, the Amalfi Coast, and Carmel, California, the most beautiful places on earth.  Golf is played on grass, around and over trees, bushes, creeks and ponds.  The view from tee to green or to where the fairway turns left or right to the green, never fails to lift my soul.  And if you knew about my golf game, you would understand that this is a heavy life, indeed.  And there are moments of extraordinary beauty on some of the meanest courses.  (I have seen maybe 10 rainbows from the course at the Pittsburgh Field Club.)

The persnickety among you are now beginning to wonder what connection there could possibly be between golf courses and food.  Well knock off the griping and I’ll tell you:  At the lowliest public course, you are likely to run across a good version of that great American leisure food in which most golfers indulge – the hot dog.  And after the turn (the ninth hole) or at the end of the round, you need something substantial but easily disposed of and portable to replenish the energy you’ve expended in playing, cursing your clubs or yourself and replaying how you should have hit that last putt, chip, or drive.

*In Stone Harbor, H. took us to his club, which is more than a cut above most golf courses, both for beauty and for the quality of the food and the drink.  And it’s fair to say that we had more than our share of decent, bizarre and totally devastating shots.  A highlight was losing 8 balls, between the three of us, on an absolutely brutal and unique hole with an island fairway and a green surrounded by water, sand and unplayable rough.

And now, to get down to brass tacks.  Pasta and good, sweet corn are two of the more satisfying foods on the face of the planet.  But it is as rare to see them paired as it is for three golfers to lose 8 balls on one hole.  So, we offer this dish to give you some idea of the wonders of golf.

pasta 2

PASTA WITH SWEET CORN, TOMATOES AND BASIL

(adapted from Milk Street on-line)

You will see that this recipe calls for one habanero chili.  Don’t worry about the heat – if you remove the seeds you’ll get a mild heat, and the fruitiness of the chili is key to making this an outstanding dish.

Although, with sweet corn, tomatoes and basil, you already have most of the holy ingredients of late summers (mozzarella or burrata being the final one).  At the Jersey shore we could not find a habanero and used a jalapeno – still good, but not outstanding as it was with the habanero.

Timing:                                 30 – 50 minutes (depending on how well you multi-task)

Ingredients:                                                        Serves 4

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 ears corn, husked (hold on to the cobs, you will be boiling them to flavor the pasta water)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided
2 medium shallots, minced
1 habañero chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
12 ounces campanelle or other short pasta  (we used penne)
1 cup chopped fresh basil

Cook:

Stir tomatoes and ½ teaspoon of salt together in a small bowl and set aside

Set a box grater in a large bowl or over a large plate and, using the large holes, grate the corn down to the cobs.  Reserve the cobs.

Bring 2 ½ quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, add the corn cobs and 1 tablespoon of salt, reduce to medium and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.  Then remove and discard cobs and remove pot from heat.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, over medium, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add the grated corn, shallots, chili and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Cook, stirring, until shallots soften – say 5 minutes.

Now stir in 1 ½ cups of the cooking water and continue cooking over medium-low, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (a spatula will leave a brief trail when drawn through the mixture) – 10-15 minutes.

While the corn mixture is cooking down, return the remaining corn-cob infused water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and then drain the pasta.

Add the drained past to the skillet with the corn-mixture and cook over medium, stirring until the pasta is coated and the sauce creamy – 2-5 minutes.  If needed, add the reserved cooking water in small amounts to reach the right consistency.

Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the tomatoes with their juices and the basil.

Toss until the butter has melted.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve.

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