Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Vegetable Cavatelli with Fresh Corn “Cream” – Corn Not Cows!

There’s a restaurant near us that features a burrata-filled tortellini, served in a cream sauce fortified with fresh, sweet corn. It’s a wonderful dish, and was the inspiration for this simple, summer vegetable cavatelli.

I was going to use reduced cream, with fresh, pureed corn stirred in at the end, but then I had a thought. What if skipped the dairy altogether, and made the sauce 100% cob-based? I was also out of cream.

So, I blended the fresh corn with some chicken broth, and ended up with what looked like corn milk. At first, I thought I’d made it too thin, but after a few tests reducing some in a pan, I realized it was thickening up beautifully.

While I was very happy with this, in hindsight, I’d do a few things differently next time. I went with pancetta, but I think the smokiness of bacon would have made this even more delicious. I also think you should probably add the corn cream to the vegetables, and bring it to a simmer before the pasta is added.

Of course, this recipe will work with whatever fresh seasonal vegetables you happen to find at the market, as long as its something that tastes good with sweet corn. In related news, everything tastes good with sweet corn. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:

For the corn “cream” (will make more than needed for the recipe)
2 ears fresh white corn, or other sweet corn
2 cups chicken broth or water

For the pasta:
2 cups cavatelli
1 tbsp olive oil
4 ounces diced bacon or pancetta (sausage would also work nicely)
1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper
1 1/2 cup diced zucchini
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 to 2 cups corn “cream,” or as needed
1 cup halved sweet cheery tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 tbsp finely sliced basil leaves
grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Unknown said...

Hi there. I'm lactose intolerant and I was wondering if you think it would be worth a try using corn cream instead of dairy cream in most dishes or if it needs to be more selective? Thanks!

Andrew Fung said...

Thanks, Chef! I am very excited to try this dish this upcoming weekend. Aside from the pasta sauce application, do you recommend any other uses for the corn cream?

Michael Minasian said...

I can only assume you are referring to Flour and Water's Tortellini with Crescenza and Corn? Made it the other week, absolutely fab.

Angie M. said...


After our original plans fell through we decided to make this tonight. I went down to the farmers stand for the vegetables. We had both pancetta and bacon. We decided to go with the bacon. You were right. The smoky flavor went very well. I can't believe how delicious the corn cream is. I will definitely be using it again this summer instead of cream. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is scrum-dilly-isous. This is Utah for perfectly delicious.

Tim and Angie

Meghna Murali said...

This recipe looks amazing! How much corn cream would you make from just two ears of corn? I'm trying to make this for 10 people and was wondering how much corn I would need.

Global Warming Deniers said...

Can corn cream be made ahead? Does it need to be refrigerated? Can it be frozen? Thanks for the great ideas.

fobana said...

Thanks for this great recipe. Mind blown that the corn cream/milk reduced so well! Now I can have that second/third helping without regret.

ladyshoes said...

I made this dish tonight. So tasty! I went with bacon and it perfectly complimented the sweet corn cream and fresh veggies.

Jim said...

I have prepared several Chef John recipes with great success. Chef John is a wonderful instructor.
With this recipe, I thought I had done something wrong, so I made this recipe one more time. This is the first time Chef John and I met with disagreement. Regrettably, I could only see fit tossing this mix into the trash.

Chef John said...

Did you use enough salt in sauce and pasta? Most "bad" veg pastas are almost always under-seasoned. Otherwise, you just didn't like it. :)

chefchipdes said...

Hey Chef,

Could you turn the sound level up on your videos? Lately I've had trouble getting the volume high enough to really hear. Works fine on my Apple TV, but iPhone and MBP are too low.

roblewis152 said...

This one is a home run, even with modifications. I used Rigatoni noodles, diced red Cuban pepper, diced cucumber, and chopped up 3/4 of a regular tomato. It all came together beautifully! Thanks Chef John, this one is going into my family cook book:)


Elisha said...

Game changing concept and great recipe. I used chorizo for the meat and a dash of smoked paprika for the smokiness.
Only downside is this is a recipe which must be eaten fresh and can't be rewarmed... Then again, I don't expect there will be leftovers.

Anto Nello said...

Dear Chef John, they're called cavatelli because they have a cavity ( they're "incavati" in italian). very simple... =) you're the best! greetings from Italy

Barbara Klauke said...

I made this with turkey kielbasa and it was delicious! Thanks, Chef John!

John Yannacci said...

Okay I'm not the brightest light on the tree. Is the corn raw or cooked when you cut it off of the cot?

Emily G. said...

@meghna murali I followed the recipe and came out with 3 cups of corn cream

Meitar Gera said...

Hi! Same question as John Yannacci's: is the corn raw or pre-cooked?
thank you! wonderful stuff as alwayyyiss :=)

Paulina Kedzior said...

I made this last night for me and my fiancee and I have to say this dish became my new favorite. So delicious and easy to make. The corn milk/cream is a genius idea and it's amazing how nicely it thickens the sauce. Initially I was a little worried that I put too much liquid (1 1/2 cups) because it seemed really watery but after a few minutes of simmering the sauce came together beautifully. Thank you Chef John!

Chef John said...

The corn is raw!

John Yannacci said...

Is that corn cooked or raw?

Michaela Konkle said...

I tried this recipe with spicy sausage and just did not seem right. I don't think I'll make it again.

Lisa Doricchi said...

To thicken the corn cream, I add salted cashews and just a touch of cream.