garlicky kale & corn crema

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A burnt pie crust and ocean level over-salted pasta water are signs that my mind is elsewhere. So, I’m keeping things simple this week with Minimalist Baker’s garlicky kale salad with crispy chickpeas and Marc Vetri’s fettucine with corn crema and charred green onions.

The Collingswood Farmers’ Market is the perfect spot to pick-up most of the ingredients for both recipes. For the kale salad, visit Flaim Farm for dino kale and Savoie Organic Farm for garlic. For the corn crema, visit Flaim Farm for sweet Jersey corn, yellow onion and scallions.

These dishes are summer staples in our house and seem to work well when substitutions are in order. Typically I hit the chickpeas with a generous coating of smoked paprika instead of the prescribed tandoori blend. The dressing is the star and will entice you to eat more and more dino kale slathered in garlicky goodness.

For the corn crema, choose a store-bought pasta that has a bit of texture and good scooping qualities or deep ridges. You want something that will catch the extra bits of corn kernels and scallions in each bite. My corn crema included one-inch slices of charred scallions and was finished with Pecorino Romano and raw sweet corn kernels.

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corn crema

yield: 4 servings / prep time: 40-60 minutes

4-6 scallions, whole
3 cups/400 grams sweet Jersey corn kernels from 3 cobs, divided
¼ cup/30 grams yellow onion, finely chopped
olive oil, for cooking (I use California Olive Ranch Arbequina Olive Oil)
¼ cup water
1 pound thick pasta like fettucine, pappardelle or tagliatelle
1-2 cups reserved hot pasta water (enough to make it creamy)
salt and pepper, to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, for finishing

Equipment: Cast Iron Skillet or Griddle, Blender, Tongs, Ladle

Scallions
Wash and dry the scallions. Trim to fit your cast iron skillet so the scallions will lay flat and char evenly. Get a cast iron skillet ripping hot over high heat for about 5 minutes. No oil needed. Using tongs, place scallions in skillet and allow to char for one minute on each side. Remove scallions from the skillet to a plate, and set aside to cool. Using a sharp knife, slice the scallions into 1-inch pieces or smaller (preference).

Corn Crema
Measure and prepare all ingredients first. Remove the corn kernels from the three cobs. You will have roughly three cups. Divide the corn kernels so you have two cups measured out, and one cup measured separately. Set aside the one cup of corn kernels for assembly later in this recipe.
Finely chop the yellow onion to total ¼ cup. Have ready ¼ cup water.
Add one tablespoon olive oil to a large saute pan set over medium heat. Gently saute the yellow onions over low heat for 1-2 minutes or until translucent. You do not want to brown or add color to the onions – only soften them. Add the two cups corn kernels and ¼ cup water to the yellow onions. Stir and lightly season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat to slightly soften the corn kernels. Remove from heat, stir and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Add all of the corn-onion-water mixture to a blender. Puree until smooth. Taste the puree and season with salt and pepper to your liking. The puree will be very sweet from the corn, but do not over salt it because the salted pasta water and grated cheese will also add salt.
*At this point, you may allow the pureed mixture to cool and refrigerate for assembly later.

Assemble
Roughly divide the remaining one cup of corn kernels in half. You will saute half, and use the rest for garnish.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.
While the water is coming up to a boil, add one tablespoon olive oil to a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add half of the corn kernels and saute for 1-2 minutes to heat through. Remove from heat.
Once the water is boiling, add one tablespoon salt and allow to return to a boil. You can taste the salted water to ensure it is not too salty. Add pasta and cook slightly under al dente (to the tooth). Do not drain.
Move the large saute pan with sautéed corn near the pot of pasta. Using tongs, move the pasta from the pot of water to the saute pan. Do not discard pasta water.
Place the saute pan with pasta and corn over medium-high heat. Add the corn crema puree and 1-2 ladles of hot pasta water. Use your tongs, or a wood spoon to combine everything together for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce thickens and becomes creamy – add more pasta water as needed. (Move the spoon and pan in a circular motion to coat the pasta and also get the corn crema and pasta water to marry together.) Fold in the sliced scallions and remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Divide into bowls and generously grate cheese over pasta. Garnish with the remaining raw corn kernels.

Recipe from Marc Vetri’s Mastering Pasta.


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