Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fettuccine with Corn Crema and Charred Green Onions

I first explored Marc Vetri's newest cookbook Mastering Pasta back in April when I tested out the delectable Eggplant and Parmesan Rotolo. I was very impressed not only by this recipe, but by this incredibly detailed book about making homemade pasta. I had made just over 1 pound of pasta, but only used half of it for that recipe, freezing the rest for another occasion.

That occasion came recently, with the arrival of fresh corn at the market. I decided to halve the recipe for Fettuccine with Corn Crema and Charred Green Onions to use my remaining half pound of dough (but the recipe below uses the original measurements). I love finding nontraditional ways to sauce my pasta, and featuring sweet and creamy corn crema is a great alternative to the expected.

Corn has a natural silkiness when pureed, even without using rich cream or butter. This particular recipe simply uses water, and if you make eggless dough and omit the cheese garnish, the recipe is completely vegan.

As summer progresses, and corn season comes into full swing, I plan to definitely make this delicious pasta dish again. It's surprisingly light yet has an air of decadence in its slightly sweet sauce. Add a little character from the charred green onions, and this is a vibrant and bright dish fitting of the season.

Photo from Mastering Pasta

Fettuccine with Corn Crema and Charred Green Onions
Serves 4 to 6
(Adapted from Mastering Pasta)

1 pound fresh pasta dough, rolled into sheets about 1/8-inch thick (I actually rolled mine a bit thinner, using #4 on my Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment, although 1/8-inch would be #2 or #3)*
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (21 g) finely chopped yellow onion
2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels cut from cobs
1/4 cup water, or more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 small green onions, trimmed
1 chunk ricotta salata cheese, for grating (optional)

Cut each pasta sheet into 3-inch lengths and trim the edges square, if desired for neater looking fettuccine. Feed 1 length of dough at a time through the fettuccine cutter, dusting the dough lightly with flour as it is cut into strands (I find that if you slightly dry out the pasta sheets before cutting them, the strands separate more easily). Alternatively, you may hand-cut the pasta sheets into pappardelle (nearly 1-inch wide strips) or tagliatelle (about 1/4-inch wide strips). Coil the fettuccine into nests and set them on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Use the fettuccine immediately or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Take the pasta right from the freezer to the boiling water.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the yellow onion and sweat it until it is soft but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add all but 1/4 cup of the corn kernels and the water. Simmer the corn gently until it is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste the mixture, adding salt and pepper as needed. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to add a few more tablespoons of water, a little at a time as needed, to yield a smooth puree.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it is smoking hot. Add the green onions and cook, turning once, until charred on two sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the onions to a cutting board, and chop finely. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, add the reserved 1/4 cup corn kernels and the chopped green onions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then stir in the corn crema. Keep warm over very low heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the fettuccine, stir, and cover the pot to quickly return the water to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender but still a little chewy, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a spider strainer or tongs, drain the pasta by transferring it to the pan of sauce. Reserve the pasta water.

Add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce and pasta mixture and cook over medium-high heat, tossing and stirring  vigorously until the sauce reduces slightly, becomes very creamy, and coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Add more water as necessary to yield a creamy sauce that clings to the noodles. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve the pasta on warmed plates and grate ricotta salata over the top, if desired.

*Note* I used a recipe similar to this basic dough, but with bread flour, an extra egg, and a tablespoon of olive oil and added a bit extra flour as needed to get the right texture. It yielded about 1 1/8 pounds dough.


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