Ahhh sweet corn season is upon us. FINALLY! And the little cherry tomatoes in my garden are just coming ripe. The basil is flourishing. Those of us who suffer through long winters with tasteless produce flown in from far away lands, well we LIVE for the summer bounty.
I am forever looking for creative ways to combine my farm finds. Many of my meals this time of year consist of an impromptu combination of vegetables, fruits and fresh herbs. Often grilled. Sometimes roasted or raw. Combined with grains or various cheeses and herbs. Salads become crazy concoctions of fruit and greens. Toss out the measuring cups and recipes kind of cooking.
This pasta dish started with some of the sweet corn we brought home from Wisconsin last weekend.
Freshly shucked. A blank slate as it were. With nothing immediate coming to mind, I decided to rummage around the fridge. Ah ha! Some cute little sweet peppers. Both perfect for the grill. Now I was getting somewhere. A few little cherry tomatoes from my garden would add some color and freshness. Some blue cheese the spouse picked up from our local French Market. Well yeah, I think that would work! The dish was coming together nicely. Just needed to add a bit of carb and finish it off with fresh basil from my garden.
The prep here is so easy. Just brush the peppers and corn with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Medium heat works well for veggies on the grill but careful monitoring and frequent turning and checking for hot spots is always a good plan.
Once the vegetables are nicely charred. Let them rest a bit to cool, then chop the peppers and cut the kernels off the corn. The rest is a piece of cake except that cake baking is hard and this is not! Just toss with some cooked pasta, fresh tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese (or another cheese of your choice) and slivered basil. I like to finish my pasta with a simple drizzle of olive oil and serve warm or at room temp. If you happen to have some basil-infused olive oil on hand, all the better.
As for substitutions? You bet! You can substitute or add almost any fresh summer vegetable to this dish. Summer squashes, eggplant and onions would be great additions/substitutions. Larger tomatoes can also be charred on the grill and added. If you want to go the meat route, some sliced grilled chicken goes well with this pasta. As does a nice glass of chardonnay.
Farmers Market Penne Pasta with Grilled Vegetables Blue Cheese & Basil
- 8 oz. dried penne pasta (regular or whole wheat)
- 4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked
- 2 cups of mini sweet peppers
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (or more to taste)
- 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil
- Extra virgin olive oil (or basil-infused olive oil)
- Kosher salt and coarse ground pepper to taste
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium. Lightly brush all sides of corn and peppers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on grill and cook until charred, checking frequently and turning as necessary. Remove from grill and let cool to room temperature.
In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with a few drops of olive oil to prevent sticking.
Cut the stems off of the peppers and chop (no need to seed the mini peppers). Using a chef knife, carefully cut the kernels away from the corn. Combine with the pasta then add the tomatoes.
Add the blue cheese, then swirl in a little olive oil just to coat and flavor the ingredients. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with slivered basil. May be served warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers for a wonderful pasta salad the next day!
Serves 2-3 as a meal or about 4 as a side dish.