this grilled corn and tomato pasta is basically summer in a bowl. aaaaand it comes together in about 20 minutes, all the while *barely* heating up your kitchen. sold?
this summer, we’ve been experimenting with cooking more things on the grill. we’ve had a few flops (looking at you, grilled romaine) but, overall, it’s been mostly wins. grilled corn has been one of our favorite experiments. not only do you spare yourself the torture of boiling a huge pot of water (hello sauna!), but you wind up with cooked but still crunchy corn kernels and a faint (ooorr not so faint if you accidentally set the husk on fire) smoky, grilled flavor.
grilled tomatoes are fun, too, because they sort of end up like roasted tomatoes, but in waaaay less time and without having to turn on the oven (are we sensing a theme here?). they get all slumpy and start to burst a little bit, which is how you know that they are just getting sweeter and more flavorful as they cook.
i’m sure you could cook the pasta outside too, if you were really determined, but now that we’re fancy (read: replaced our kitchen window with one that opens and cut a hole in the side of our house so that our exhaust fan actually sucks up hot steam and sends it outside), boiling a quick pot of water to cook pasta suddenly feels possible again.
once you have all of your ingredients cooked, the kernels of one ear of corn go for a quick spin in the food processor or blender with some garlic, basil, olive oil, and cheese then all of the goodness gets mixed together. and you’re done! it’s weeknight quick and hot summer kitchen approved, promise.
- 4 ears of corn on the cob, husks on
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, washed and dried
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (extra light, if you have it, for the higher smoke point)
- 8 oz. (227 g.) short pasta
- 1 large clove of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 oz. (1/4 cup / 28 g.) grated pecorino romano, romano, or parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
- 10 medium/large fresh basil leaves (about 2 tablespoons chopped)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- preheat the grill so that you have direct heat for the tomatoes and indirect heat for the corn. on our gas grill, we set 2 burners to medium and leave the 3rd one turned off.
- toss the tomatoes with the teaspoon of olive oil to coat them. either put them into a wire grill basket that they won’t fall out of or thread them on skewers.
- start a pot of water to boil for the pasta and cook the pasta according to the package directions, reserving a cup of the cooking water at the end before draining the pasta.
- put the corn and tomatoes on the grill (corn gets indirect heat and the tomatoes get direct heat). after about 5 minutes, turn the ears of corn over and look at your tomatoes to see how fast they are cooking. i cooked the corn and tomatoes for about 8 – 10 minutes total but if your tomatoes are all bursting before that, you may want to take them off the grill sooner. the ideal is to have all of them a bit slumped but only a few of them actually burst since that lets all of the delicious juice leak out.
- once the corn and tomatoes are done, bring them inside and, using a potholder, carefully shuck the corn. it will be very hot BUT the silk should come off easily at this point. cut the kernels off one ear of corn and place them in a food processor or blender. cut the kernels off the other 3 ears of corn and put them in a large bowl. add the tomatoes and pasta to the bowl.
- to the food processor or blender with the kernels from one ear of corn, add garlic, cheese, basil, and olive oil. pulse until a chunky pesto forms. you may wish to add some of the pasta cooking water to the pesto in small increments to thin it out.
- add the corn pesto to the bowl with the corn, tomatoes, and pasta. toss to combine, adding more pasta cooking water in small doses, as needed.
- serve immediately with additional cheese, if desired.