Summer’s off to a slow to start on the Kitsap Peninsula. It’s been unusually rainy and cool. We’ve been busy harvesting our lavender in-between spots of rain; gathering stalks amidst the tuneful buzz of foraging honey bees. With days that feel more like spring than summer, dishes like this Vegan Corn Pesto Pasta with Zucchini provide comfort during a season in flux.
Deliciously creamy and full of flavor, this Vegan Corn Pesto Pastawith Zucchini is an easy dish worthy of repeating. It’s brimming with three of summer’s favorites: corn, zucchini, and basil. The sauce, a riff off Italian pesto, is made with skillet-cooked corn, pine nuts, vegan parmesan, and olive oil. Fresh zucchini ribbons and torn basil add more layers of summery flavor to the dish, while squeezes of fresh lemon juice marry everything together.
Though available year-round, this dish is best made with peak-season corn (June – September).
Verdant basil growing in the garden.
Forager (honey bee) nectaring on lavender.
Even if it’s hot where you are, you might feel like enjoying a little bit of summer comfort food too. Serve this Vegan Corn Pesto Pasta with Zucchini alongside a green salad and some sparkling water for an impressive and delicious meal.
3 1/4 cups of corn kernels (cut from approximately 4 ears of corn)
1 large garlic clove
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp coarse grain sea salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 tsp
1/2 cup shredded vegan Parmesan style cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts), toasted, plus 1-2 tbsp more for topping
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup basil, torn or chiffonaded, plus more for garnish
12–16 oz vegan Farfalle pasta (gluten-free if desired)
1–2 medium-sized zucchini (depending on your zucchini loving level), thinly sliced lengthwise using a non-serrated Y peeler for long, thin strips*
Add 1-2 tsp of olive oil to a cast-iron skillet. Add the garlic and sautee for 2 minutes. Then add the smoked paprika and cook for another minute before adding the corn and salt. Sauté the corn over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until corn is tender.
Transfer 1 cup of the corn kernels into a bowl. Add the rest of the skillet cooked corn kernels into a food processor with an S blade. Add the vegan Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and crushed red pepper. Then puree the mixture, streaming in the olive oil while the processor is running, until smooth. Taste the pesto and adjust the seasonings as desired (add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste). Set the pesto aside.
Cook the pasta according to package directions; typically, fill a large pot with water (salted if desired) and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, stir occasionally and cook until al dente.
Drain the pasta with a collander, reserving a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.**
Return the pasta back to the pot (off of the heat source). Add the pesto, reserved corn kernels and basil and gently toss to evenly coat. Add the zucchini strips and gently toss again (or reserve the strips for plating).
Season the pasta with salt, pepper, more splashes of lemon juice and crushed red pepper as desired. Garnish with fresh basil and pine nuts. Serve and enjoy!
*If the zucchini ribbons appear weepy after you peel them into strips, lay them flat on a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle a bit of salt over the top of the strips. Set aside.
**If desired, you can use the the reserved pasta water to thin the pesto (sauce) to your preferred consistency.
I selected Fafalle (bowtie) pasta for this recipe, but you can swap this with your favorite vegan pasta variety.