Tortellini with Corn Sauce and Bacon

I don’t usually cook a lot with corn, but lately is has looked so tempting at the Farmers’ Market that I often come home with a bag of fresh sweet corn on the cob. I cook a couple on the cob, slather them with butter and salt, and then the rest languish in the crisper drawer. This dish was an effort to use them before they turned weird and I couldn’t use them. I think it turned out rather well.

You could, I imagine, very easily substitute frozen corn kernels in this dish. The majority of them end up being turned into the sauce (along with some very nice supporting players), so fresh isn’t a necessity. You could make this bright yet rich, summer-tasting dish in the dead of winter and it would still be good!

And, of course, anything is better with bacon! (Should “bacon” have its own category?) And anything cooked in bacon drippings is enhanced as well. So, just imagine a cheesy tortellini . . . smothered in creamy corn and cheese goodness . . . topped with bacon! How could this not be wonderful?

You could, of course, use the corn sauce on any kind of pasta you like, filled or plain. Like I think I mentioned above, anything is better with bacon!

Tortellini with Corn Sauce and Bacon

serves 2 – 3

  • 4 slices of bacon, thick cut preferable
  • 2-3 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off (yields about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp parmesean or pecorino cheese, roughly cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • fresh tortellini

Cut the bacon slices into 1/2″ pieces and, in a heavy skillet over low heat, slowly cook them until just crisp. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Remove all but a thin layer of the bacon drippings (oh, save your bacon fat! it is so good!) from the skillet, return to the heat, and turn it up to medium. Saute the corn in the bacon fat until it begins to look done, then add the pine nuts and continue cooking. Pine nuts burn very easily so you’ll want to watch the skillet closely and stir nearly constantly. When the corn and pine nuts are nicely browned (and you are beginning to smell the pine nuts) remove them to a bowl and turn off the heat.

In a blender or small food processor, add the garlic and cheese to all but about 1/4 cup of the corn and pine nut mixture. Chop to combine into a fine paste. Slowly add the olive oil while the machine is running to form your sauce. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Meanwhile, cook the tortellini according to their directions. Combine the tortellini with the sauce and reserved corn and pine nuts in your heavy skillet over low heat. Add some of the pasta cooking water if it needs thinning out. Cook, stirring constantly, until everything is just combined. Plate, and garnish with bacon. Serve and prepare to be complemented.

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