Corn Ninja

I’m not really into the act of completing house chores with a smile on my face. Nonetheless, I think Hubs and I remain as the only condo in our building of 6 without a regular housekeeper. For me, it’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of priorities and overall dislike for cleaning, or for having any chores for that matter.

Fortunately, Hubs and I are relatively fair in our division of labor, but it still doesn’t mean that I get excited about cleaning the bathroom just because I don’t have to take out the trash or clean the litter box. My mind constantly reverts back to the ‘old days’ and my parents’ ‘money system’ – rather than giving a weekly allowance, we had to earn it by doing chores. And not like these days where kids get 5 buckaroos for unloading the dishwasher – we were luckly to get 50 cents per chore. I therefore mark 1 point in the “reasons to have kids” column for the sheer geniusness of that system; I can’t seem to think of any more points for that column just yet…

I do remember racking up on my allowance cash though, and as a result I have to say we had a pretty clean house growing up, and some bathroom sinks that shimmered so much you hated to brush your teeth (which who didn’t, anyway?) for fear you’d spew on the counter, or drip a blob of sparkly pink Barbie toothpaste into the bowl. Then again, at that point it would be ‘dirty’ and I could rack up oh, 25 cents to touch it up.

All of the chore reimbursements went out the window at gramma’s house. You see, grandparents like to have grandkids around for more than just cheek-pinching and babysitting – they also like to put ’em to work. Those of you who are grandparents are probably nodding at this point, but it wasn’t all smiles over here, partner. For one, days spent at the grandparents’ house meant days of no income, which is bad. For two, there was no Nintendo, which meant that all the while our high-scoring Mario game was getting beaten by someone else. And three, we really worked. We had to clean all the debris outta s’mores gramma’s pool, and pick up pine combs (cones…), and often we were forced to go to the grocery store and the Hardees with her and her friends so she could “show us off”.

Pound cake gramma was a little less militant, but I can’t tell you how many ears of corn I shucked, and even though that was one of the only things she made us do, I probably hated it more than all of the other chores put together. It was hot out there, and we all had to sit on the back porch with buckets, meanwhile the piles of corn to shuck seemed taller than us, and neverending. I rarely shucked a perfect ear, and she (or my dad) always made me go back and get the silky pieces off. I swear they must have grown back, because to me, those ears of corn were as naked as could be.

As a result of those days upon days of shucking corn, I gotta say – I’m pretty damn good at it now, and fast, too. If there were a corn shuckin’ race around these parts, I’d win it, no doubt. Just call me a corn ninja, ok? Gramma would certainly be proud.

This here recipe is summer in a bowl, and will definitely have you practicing your shuckin’ skillz. Corn takes the place of basil in this play on pesto, and while you might think it’s loaded with cream and butter, there’s none to be had. You’ll taste sweet corn in every single bite, and if that’s not the best taste of this month, I don’t know what is.

After you’ve shucked all the corn, it’s time to cut it off the cob, and often times that looks like a crime scene in a corn field after it’s all said and done, and half the corn is on the ground, or down your shirt, and who knows where else. If you’ve got a bundt pan handy, position the narrow end of the cob into the hole in the middle of the pan, and slice downward; the corn will magically fall directly into the pan, with barely any stragglers.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say these two words again – corn. ninja. Please and thankee sai.

Psst! It is almost vacay time, folks! Before we head out at literally the crack of dawn on Friday (probably even before..), I’d love some advice/suggestions. We’re heading into Portland, Oregon and driving all the way down to LA along the Pacific Coast Highway, with a short stop in Napa and thanks to one of you lovely people out there, a visit to a magical magical place while we’re there (and some wineries, of course). If you have any advice, recommendations, or maybe a quick comment about how jealous you are, bring it on!! Vacation is way overdue, and it’s gonna be a blast! (and no worries, I’ll keep you occupied on this front, too!)

Tagliatelle w/ Fresh Corn Pesto
Adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2010; serves 4

printable version

4 bacon slices, cut into small pieces (lardons)
4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears) 
2 large garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 c walnuts, toasted
1/3 c evoo
8 oz tagliatelle (or fettucine, if you can’t find tagliatelle)
3/4 c coarsely torn fresh basil leaves, divided

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet (or Dutch oven) over medium heat until crisp and brown, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain (it is at this time that you should give a nibble or two to your cat, if you have one…). Pour off all but 1 T drippings from skillet (save drippings for another time – don’t waste that bacon fat!). Add corn, garlic, & a pinch of salt and pepper to drippings in skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer 1 1/2 c corn kernels to small bowl and reserve. Scrape remaining corn mixture into processor. Add 1/2 c Parmesan and walnuts. With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube and blend until pesto is almost smooth. Set pesto aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally (for tagliatelle, this happens fast – in ~4 minutes). Drain, reserving 1 1/2 c pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and 1/2 cup basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil leaves and reserved bacon. Serve pasta, passing additional grated Parmesan alongside.

9 thoughts on “Corn Ninja

    • why yes, they are pecans! but you can use walnuts (I must have once before to have put them in the recipe). i think the original recipe uses pine nuts, like in traditional pesto. I like them all😉, so just use whatever you have, or mix them!

  1. I am DROOLING over this recipe, and this one is definitely going on the menu for this week…I’ve got some local/artisanal juniper cured pork belly in the fridge, and I be this would be amazing!

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