Spaghetti with Sweet Corn Pesto

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This may be the last weekend of the official summer season in the Hamptons, but as far as I’m concerned, summer isn’t over until the corn and tomatoes are gone and pumpkin mania takes over. September is a particularly magical month in the Hamptons, because for a few weeks, the weather seems to be absolutely perfect every day, and there are no packed beaches or traffic jams to accompany it. It’s hands-down my favorite month of year here.  So, in honor of the winding down of the insanity that is the Hamptons in August,  and the warm weeks ahead, I wanted to share my all-time favorite late-summer dinner: Spaghetti with Sweet Corn Pesto.

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What is sweet corn pesto, you ask? Let me explain. It’s a sauce that made the same way as traditional basil pesto, but with a few major differences. Instead of basil and pine nuts, I sauté fresh corn with some smashed garlic and blend it all together with Parmesan and olive oil to make a sauce that’s creamy, subtly sweet and savory.

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I love this pasta for so many reasons. It is a unique and heavenly way to use these superstar summer veggies, and a dish that is as impressive as it is simple. The pasta warms the tomatoes just enough to bring out their sweetness, and the panko crumbs toasted with red pepper flakes add just little bit of heat and crunch to each bite. I love having lot of different textures in the same dish, and this recipe has that nailed.

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And for me, this recipe also means slowing down and getting back in the kitchen after months of grilling and throwing together simple sides and salads. With sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and basil, this recipe is as summery as it gets, but it’s also a hearty and comforting dinner -perfect for early September nights with the first discernible chill in the air. Make this over the long weekend if it’s getting cool where you are, and serve the pasta in big bowls with red wine. I promise you’ll be happy you did.

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Spaghetti with Sweet Corn Pesto

Ingredients

 extra virgin olive oil
3 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 6 ears of corn)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup panko (Japanese bread flakes)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound spaghetti
2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half through the stem
½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed

Directions

In a large (12-inch) sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the corn, the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender.

Remove ½ cup of the corn and set aside. Transfer the rest of the corn and garlic to the bowl of a food processor (or powerful blender such as a Vitamix) and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spicy bread crumbs. Using a paper towel, wipe out the sauté pan you used to cook the corn, and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the panko, crushed red pepper flakes and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring very often, for 3-5 minutes, until the panko is golden brown. Remove to a small bowl to cool.

Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper to the corn and garlic and process until coarsely pureed. With the food processor running, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and process until smooth. Add the Parmesan and pulse until combined.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the box. While the pasta cooks, wipe out the sauté pan again. Transfer the corn “pesto”  to the pan, add 1/4 cup of pasta water and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until smooth.

When the pasta is finished cooking, use tongs to transfer it to the sauté pan (do not drain!) and toss it with the sauce. Add the cherry tomatoes and reserved corn and toss again. Sprinkle a thin layer of panko crumbs over the pasta, tear the basil leaves into pieces, and scatter half of them over the pasta.  Serve immediately with remaining panko and basil on the side.


Grilled Shrimp with Scallion Salsa Verde

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When people think about the Hamptons, they don’t necessarily think about farming, but farms are a huge part of the landscape and the culture on the East End of Long Island.  I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York this summer.  Amber Waves is owned and farmed by Katie Baldwin and Amanda Merrow and together they have cultivated an incredible community of local food and farm supporters here in the Hamptons.

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The farm grows organic vegetables, fruit, flowers, and wheat and over the last few years I have loved experimenting with the different fruits and veggies that show up in the CSA box each week. This year, Amber Waves opened a beautiful new farm store, and to celebrate, I’ll be sharing recipes inspired by what’s in season and available at the farm all summer long. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll find inspiration to cook seasonally, eat locally, and explore delicious new ways eat your way through the summer!

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This Grilled Shrimp with Scallion Salsa Verde is one of my favorite summer dinners and I’m really excited to share it with you. Made with scallions, mint, parsley, capers and garlic, my take on Spanish salsa verde is an earthy, herby super fresh condiment that’s delicious on just about anything. It’s great with everything from steak to chicken to scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes, but I especially love it with grilled shrimp and fish. Hope you do, too!

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Grilled Shrimp with Scallion Salsa Verde


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup minced fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1½ tablespoons drained capers, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • wooden skewers, for grilling

Directions

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine the scallions and vinegar in a 2-cup glass measuring cup or medium bowl, and let the scallions sit in the vinegar for 15 minutes. Add the parsley, mint, garlic, capers, and ½ teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Add ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix well and set aside.

Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals (or set a gas grill to medium-high heat) and brush the grilling rack with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Skewer the shrimp. (I put 4 or 5 shrimp on a skewer for each serving.) Grill the shrimp for 1-1/2 minutes on each side, and serve immediately with the Scallion Salsa Verde.

Note: The oil separates naturally as the salsa verde sits – just give it a good stir!