Let's eat: Creamy Corn and Tomato Pasta Bake




PG-tested

Is there anything sweeter than just-picked local corn? Or juicier than a homegrown tomato? They’re two of summer’s best offerings, and adding them to the menu breathes life into your backyard barbecue or summer picnic.

Often they’re paired in a cold salad or tossed in a simple saute, but here they’re the star of a creamy, cheesy casserole that can be prepared ahead of time and then baked right before serving.

The original recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, but I substituted colorful heirloom grape tomatoes that were so pretty at Delallo’s Italian Market in Jeannette I couldn’t resist buying them. If you can’t find fontina cheese, mild provolone, Gruyere or Gouda cheeses will be just as yummy.

1 pound penne

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup dry white wine

4 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs

8 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (2 cups), divided

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup), divided

1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, parsley or tarragon

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, stirring often until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta in colander and toss with 1 tablespoon of oil. Set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400 degrees. Dry now empty pot and heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, cream and wine, smoothing out any lumps. Stir in corn and bring to a simmer.

Off heat, gradually whisk in 1 cup of fontina and ½ cup Parmesan into sauce until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Stir in tomatoes and pasta, breaking up any clumps. Transfer pasta mixture to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup fontina and ½ cup Parmesan.

Bake casserole until golden and bubbling around edges, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with basil and serve.

Serves 8.

— “The Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen (July 2017, $29.95)

Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmkay.





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