Corn Pasta (Secretly Healthy!)

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This creamy– but secretly healthy– Corn Pasta is a ridiculously creamy pasta made without any cream or milk. What’s the secret? Creamed corn! This unforgettably tasty pasta can be enjoyed any time of the year, thanks to canned and frozen produce! 

If you love sweet corn, our practically famous Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad is another recipe you’ll want to add to your list to make. (Why are pasta and corn such a winning combo?!)

Corn Pasta

Our Latest Pasta Obsession!

This corn pasta with basil is inspired by Melissa Clark’s recipe which uses fresh corn and reserved pasta water to form the sweet corn pasta sauce. The minute I saw the recipe, I knew I needed to try it! But seeing as fresh sweet corn is only available for a limited time, I had to create my own take on the recipe.

So I began experimenting with frozen sweet corn and canned corn and came up with a combo using both. First, canned creamed corn for a saucy pasta sauce base and second, frozen sweet corn left in its whole form. And after a bit of work and testing, I am beyond excited to share this recipe with you all. This creamy Corn Pasta recipe has truly become our latest obsession. (So obsessed in fact, that there has already been another variation created — be sure to check out this Vegetable Pasta!) 

My kiddos love it, my husband can’t believe there isn’t loads of heavy cream or milk in it, and I am truly in love with it all — the corn + basil flavor combo, the sauce’s texture, and just how easy it is to make.

Process shots: melt butter and sauté green onions and garlic.

How To Make Corn Pasta

Start by boiling the pasta in salted water.

While the pasta cooks, whip together the sauce– which begins with sautéed green onions and garlic, creamed corn, and a little bit of pasta water (water the pasta gets cooked in). We’ll blend this all together and this practically magical combination becomes the cream sauce for this pasta. It’s truly a game changer when most creamy pasta recipes use a cup or more of heavy cream. (cough. cough. I’m looking at you Chicken Pasta!)

Finally, sauté some frozen corn, add the sauce in, and it’s time to toss everything together. The final step of tossing the hot pasta with the creamed corn sauce and this reserved pasta water is one of the secrets to Italian pasta. It’s called emulsifying and that’s how you get a luxuriously smooth and incredibly flavorful sauce. While tossing, we add in  a touch of Parmesan — nothing beats a sweet corn sauce, pasta, and cheese!

QUICK TIP

A lot of pasta recipes call for “reserved pasta water” which simply means you’ll pull water out from the pot where the pasta is boiling in. Yes, pasta water looks a bit less than appetizing, but it’s filled with leftover starch from the boiling pasta and plenty of salt — just what we need for this Corn Pasta recipe!  

Process shots: Add creamed corn to the pan and simmer; transfer to a blender and process until smooth.

What Is Creamed Corn?

If you aren’t familiar, creamed corn (which is also called cream-style corn) is a canned ingredient and doesn’t have any actual cream in it. So what’s up with that name? About half of the fresh corn kernels are pureed (or “creamed)” and the other half are left whole. The two are mixed together to create creamed corn (or cream-style corn).

Another great thing about this Corn Pasta? You don’t need fresh or in-season corn to still enjoy loads of flavor! Canned corn and frozen corn — it’s all going to work and taste amazing!

QUICK TIP

We use creamed corn in this popular Chicken Corn Chowder and Thanksgiving-favorite Corn Casserole!

Process shots: melt butter and sauté frozen corn; add in the blended mixture; add in cooked pasta.

Corn Pasta Toppings

  • Fresh basil. Although basil isn’t as readily available in the winter as it is in the summer, I’ve never had a problem finding a packet or plant at my local grocery store. The basil really elevates the flavor of this dish. (Who says summer Corn Pasta can only happen when it’s warm outside?!)
  • Red pepper flakes. For anyone that loves some heat, sprinkle on some red pepper flakes to individual plates.
  • Additional Parmesan cheese. I like grating a touch extra of Parmesan with a microplane right on top of individual plates. This gives the cheese the best possible texture and it melts beautifully on this creamy corn pasta.

Process shots: Toss gently to coat; add basil and serve

Recipe Tips

  • Thoroughly blend the pasta sauce. This dish is luxuriously creamy and the sauce truly tastes like there is a cup of heavy cream in it! To get that creamy mouthfeel, be sure to take the time to thoroughly blend in a high-powered blender.
  • Tear the basil. A tip I learned from an Italian cooking class while making this bruschetta— tear, don’t cut the basil! This will keep the basil fresher and looking bright/vibrant for much longer. The tears don’t need to be perfect, just quickly tear off smallish pieces of basil and add to the pasta.
  • Salt the pasta water: Make sure the shells are well salted as they boil, since salting the water is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. It makes a big flavor difference in this recipe, which relies on salted pasta and salty pasta water.

Corn Pasta

VARIATIONS

Corn Pasta Variations

  • Creamy corn pasta with bacon and scallions: Finely chop 4-6 slices of bacon and cook it first. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Then, instead of adding butter to sauté the green onions, sauté them in the leftover bacon grease instead! Top pasta with the set aside bacon and voila!
  • Pasta with sweet corn, tomatoes, and basil: if you’d like to add some tomatoes, sauté some cherry tomatoes with the frozen corn.
  • Swap the pasta: Feel free to use a different pasta shape; try penne, rotini, fusilli, or farfalle.
  • Vegan corn pasta: Use vegan butter and leave out the Parmesan. You may need some extra spices and salt to make up for the lack of cheese.

Corn Pasta with basil and Parmesan

More Favorite Corn Recipes:

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Corn pasta

5 from 5 votes
This creamy, but secretly healthy Corn Pasta is a ridiculously creamy pasta made without any cream or milk. What's the secret? Creamed corn! This unforgettably tasty pasta can be enjoyed any time of the year, thanks to canned and frozen produce! 
Print Recipe

Corn pasta

5 from 5 votes
This creamy, but secretly healthy Corn Pasta is a ridiculously creamy pasta made without any cream or milk. What's the secret? Creamed corn! This unforgettably tasty pasta can be enjoyed any time of the year, thanks to canned and frozen produce! 
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword corn pasta, Creamy Corn Pasta With Basil
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 584kcal
Cost $5.87

Ingredients

  • Fine sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 4 cups (340g) medium pasta shells uncooked
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 can (14.75 oz; 418g) creamed corn Note 1
  • 1-1/2 cup (210g) frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup (40g) finely grated Parmesan cheese Note 2
  • 1/2 cup torn basil (or more to taste) Note 3
  • Optional: red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • PASTA: Set a large colander in the sink with a glass mug or liquid measuring cup in the center of the colander. (This is so you don't forget to reserve some pasta water before draining the pasta!) Bring a large pot (5.5-quart or bigger) of water to boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water (I add 1 tablespoon fine sea salt). Return to a boil and then add in the shells. Cook according to package directions, subtracting one minute. Before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta water and then drain. Do not rinse.
  • SAUCE: Meanwhile, thinly slice the green onions -- just the whites and light green parts (~1/2 cup). Discard or save the dark green parts for another recipe. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to a large pot or sauté pan over medium heat. Once melted, add sliced green onions and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes. Add in garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid. (Just dip a measuring cup into the pot if the pasta is still boiling.) Stir. Finally, add in the full can of creamed corn and mix. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Use a spatula to scrape every bit of the mixture from the pot to a blender. Blend mixture (See Note 4) until very smooth (~1-2 minutes on high), adding a little extra water if needed to get a thick but pourable texture.
  • SAUCE CONT.: While the mixture is blending, return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter and melt. Once melted, add in frozen corn and cook for 1 minute. Add in the blended corn mixture and mix. Reduce heat to medium and simmer to combine flavors until pasta is done cooking.
  • TOSS: Add drained pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and toss vigorously to coat. While tossing, gradually add in the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, adding 2 tablespoons at a time. Toss and cook for 1 minute; add a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. Continue to toss until sauce is thick and coats the pasta nicely. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste (I typically add 1/2 up to 1 teaspoon pepper and another pinch of salt). Mix in the herbs and serve.
  • SERVE: Serve plates up, garnishing with additional basil and Parmesan if desired and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if using. Enjoy immediately!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Creamed corn: Creamed corn (or cream-style corn) is a canned ingredient and doesn’t have any actual cream in it. About half of the fresh corn kernels are pureed (or “creamed)” and the other half are left whole. The two are mixed together to create creamed corn or cream-style corn. You can find creamed corn near regular canned corn in the grocery store.
Note 2: Parmesan cheese: Grate a block of Parmesan on the small holes of a grater. Alternatively use finely grated Parmesan cheese. Parmesan from the can will be too salty and won't melt into the sauce nicely.
Note 3: Basil: The basil adds so much to this recipe! I wouldn't recommend leaving it out, but if you aren't a fan, try flat-leaf Italian parsley instead.
Note 4: Blending: When blending, make sure to secure the lid on tightly and select the “soup” or “hot” cycle. Increase speed slowly and watch it carefully to avoid sauce exploding out or over. Remove the lid carefully as it will likely release a burst of steam. If your blender doesn’t have a hot/soup setting, you can compensate by replacing the blender lid with a folded towel and holding it in place with your hands. This will help reduce steam pressure. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 584kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 19.8g | Fat: 17.5g | Cholesterol: 37.7mg | Sodium: 198.1mg | Fiber: 5.7g | Sugar: 11.3g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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