Pasta with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil

This is one of those recipes that stacks flavor or top of more flavor. The concept sounds simple, but here it’s the little things in each step that make the dish remarkable. Here it’s all about the corn. We owe this gem to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine, September-October 2018 edition. We got rave reviews from those who tried the dish, and the universal comment was “I thought the habanero pepper would make it too hot, but it wasn’t!” Hope you give it a try.

P.S. We grilled the corn for our version


1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 ears corn, husked

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) salted butter

2 medium shallots

1 habanero chili, stemmed, seeded and minced

12 oz campanelle or other short pasta

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, sliced


In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt; set aside. Set a box grater in a large bowl or pie plate. Using the large holes, grate the corn down to the cobs, reserve the cobs.

In a large pot, bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a boil. Add the corn cobs and 1 Tbsp salt, reduce to medium and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Using tongs, remove and discard the cobs, then remove the pot from the heat.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter. Add the grated corn, shallots, habanero and 1 tsp salt. Cook, stirring, until the shallots soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. Cook over medium-low, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (a spatula should leave a trail when drawn through), 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, return the remaining corn-infused water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the pasta is coated and the sauce is creamy, about 2 minutes; if needed add the reserved cooking water, 2 Tbsp at a time, to reach the proper consistency.

Off heat, add the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, basil and tomatoes with their juice, then toss until the butter has melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4.

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Dill Pea and Cucumber Salad

We found this vegetable salad to complement the dishes we were already planning. We planned to use grape tomatoes in one of those dishes, so we wanted to use up the extras. This recipe was just what the doctor ordered, and we hope you like it, too!

The recipe comes from Rachel at the website To make it more complicated, Rachel herself took the recipe from her friends’ cookbook, Our Sweet Basil Kitchen, by Carrian and Cade Cheney. Either source would be a good starting point, but we also include the ingredients and directions here. Enjoy!


2 cups fresh peas

1 English cucumber, sliced

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

⅓ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

1 dash red pepper flakes


Combine peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and refrigerate 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegars, and garlic. Add the sugar and whisk to combine.

Pour everything over the veggies and sprinkle with dill and pepper flakes. Serve immediately or cover and serve within the hour. The cucumbers will start to pickle if you wait too long.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves 6.

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Lentil Dip

We like this alternative to the ubiquitous chickpeas of our hummus dips. This recipe uses cooked lentils, which goes great with the sweet curry powder and garlic. We found this recipe on the back of a box of gluten-free crackers, but we’re sure it will go with any other cracker and a variety of crudités. We used 1/4 cup olive oil, not the full amount called for in this recipe. You can find this and other recipes at


8 oz. cooked green or red lentils

3 Tbsp minced garlic

3 tsp curry powder

3/4 cup olive oil

4 Tbsp tahini

3 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

4 Tbsp lemon juice


In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

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Pink Hummus

Sometimes it’s just pretty. Sometimes it’s just tasty. When we found a new hummus recipe that was both pretty and tasty, we had to try it. This recipe is found on page 92 of the cookbook Platters and Boards by Shelly Westerhausen with Wyatt Worcel.The secret ingredient for the pink color is pickled beet juice. Maybe you can find this juice on your own; we bought a jar of pickled beets and poured off the juice. (The beets were tasty, too!)

We made a few adjustments including adding a small amount of cumin.

Here is the recipe as it was written.


1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup pickled beet juice

2 Tbsp olive oil + more for garnish

1/4 cup tahini

1 garlic clove

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


In a food processor, place the chickpeas, beet juice, olive oil, tahini, garlic, and salt and process until completely smooth, 2-3 minutes. Season with pepper and more salt, if needed. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with parsley. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes 1 1/4 cups.

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Coffee-Roasted Carrots

Only one of us is a coffee drinker. One isn’t even fond of mocha-flavored this or that. However, this use of coffee brings us together. Coffee-roasted carrots is an idea attributed to famed California chef Daniel Patterson. This recipe from the May 2008 issue (page 114) of Cooking Light is an excellent adaptation of the original idea of roasting carrot over whole coffee beans. This version uses crushed instant coffee granules instead. The recipe also introduced us to another interesting spice variant: fennel pollen. This ingredient, similar to the use of saffron,, is used in tiny quantities. We found this spice at our local organic food store.

For those who don’t have access, here is the recipe.


1 1/2 lb. medium carrots, trimmed and peeled (halved lengthwise, if large)

1 Tbsp olive oil

3/4 tsp instant coffee granules, crushed

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp light brown sugar

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp fennel pollen (optional)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp lemon zest


Preheat oven to 425º F. Toss carrots with oil, coffee, salt, sugar, pepper, and, if desired, fennel pollen. Arrange in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 425º F until browned and tender, 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Transfer to a platter, and sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest.

Serves 6.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

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Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Mint Gremolata

Grilled potatoes can be tricky; they often take longer to prepare than other grilled items. Overdone, the potatoes are a dry, flaky mess stuck to the grates or lumps of black scorch. Underdone, the potatoes are toothsome to a fault. We have a tried-and-true recipe in a disposable foil pan, but we are like some variety. Here’s a good addition to the grilled potato repertoire.

This recipe comes from Jamie Purviance’s book, New American Barbecue, page 246. Not only do we like the technique, we love the gremolata. We hope you enjoy it, too!


For the gremolata:

1 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/4 tsp kosher salt

2 lbs. fingerling potatoes, each cut lengthwise in half

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced


In the bowl of a food processor pulse the parsley and mint until coarsely chopped. Add the remaining gremolata ingredients and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the gremolata to a large bowl.

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat (400º F.) and preheat a large cast iron griddle.

Combine the potatoes, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic and turn to coat. Arrange the potatoes, cut side down, on the griddle and cook over indirect medium heat, with the lid closed, until tender, crisp, and golden brown, 30-35 minutes, checking occasionally and moving the potatoes to prevent over browning. Transfer the potatoes to the large bowl with the gremolata and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Grill Time: 40-45 minutes

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Chicken Thighs with Sweet Apricot-Hoisin Sauce

Jamie Purviance is one of our favorite chefs for grilling inspiration. He has a new book, New American Barbecue. We haven’t perused all the new recipes, but we’ve already made one recipe twice. Not only are the results well-seasoned and delectable, but the preparation technique allows for grilled and smoked flavors, while minimizing grill clean-up afterwards. Bravo Jamie! This recipe is a winner! For those who can’t find this recipe on page 188, we include the information here.

Note: the recipe recommends cherry or apple wood chips, but we found hickory chips worked great.


For the rub:

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground cumin

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

8 chicken thighs (with bone and skin), each 5-6 oz. (Trim excess skin and fat, patted dry)

For the glaze:

1/2 cup apricot preserves

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp peeled, minced fresh ginger

1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium-low heat (350º to 400º F.).

Combine the rub ingredients, and then season the chicken thighs all over with the rub.

In a small saucepan over medium heat on the stove, bring the glaze ingredients to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

Drain and add the wood chips to the charcoal or to the smoker box of a gas grill, following manufacturer’s instructions, and close the lid. When smoke appears, grill the thighs, skin side down first, over direct medium-low heat, with the lid closed, until lightly browned, about 16 minutes, turning once. Place the thighs in a large disposable foil pan, place the pan over indirect medium-low heat, and brush the thighs with some of the glaze. Close the lid and cook until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink at the bone, 15-20 minutes more, brushing occasionally with the glaze. If the glaze becomes too thick as it cools, warm it briefly over medium heat. Brush with any remaining glaze just before removing the thighs from the grill. Serve the thighs warm, garnished with the cilantro.

Serves 4.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Grill Time: 31-36 minutes

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