Monday, August 9, 2010

Spaghetti with Fresh Corn Pesto and Bacon: A little tender loving care

I wasn’t at all concerned when I first realized I had no plans for the weekend. I thought for sure that something would pop up – a trip to the Arclight to finally see the The Kids are All Right, Sunday brunch with my girlfriends, or even a spontaneous road trip out to Glendora to snag a peach donut from the Donut Man.

By Saturday afternoon, however, it became clear to me that the only social interaction I would have that day (and incidentally the whole weekend) was randomly running into a friend at Target. There would be no Donut Man, movie or fat stack of blueberry ricotta pancakes washed down with multiple mimosas. Instead, I would whittle away the hours running errands, neurotically organizing my suitcase for an impending business trip and bleaching the kitchen sink.

I’m not used to not having anything to do on the weekend any more. This summer has passed by in a blur of birthdays, events, cooking projects, blog posts, picture editing, and seemingly endless runs to the grocery store for that one ingredient I forgot to buy on the previous trip I made approximately two hours prior.

I’ve been overwhelmed at times. Dizzy with all the obligations and commitments that have caused me to let down the people I care about most in my life. I’ve felt so guilty about cancelling plans or not being able to see one of my close friends before she moved to Portland that I’ve forgotten that maybe I’ve also been letting myself down.

It’s been easy to get caught up in the current. To get bogged down by the “need to’s” rather than “want to’s” this summer. Yet, with no “need to’s” lined up for this weekend other than grocery shopping, laundry and cleaning, I felt lost. I felt lonely. And I felt aimless. What was my purpose if I wasn’t doing for others, doing for my blog or doing for all those goals I’ve scattered out into the horizon?

I didn’t know.

So I watched the decidedly awful “romantic” “comedy” Valentine’s Day on OnDemand. I bought myself a $5.65 chocolate bar from Joan’s on Third that I’ve been relishing two squares at a time. And, on Saturday night, I made myself this spaghetti with corn pesto and bacon. And in a strange way, it really did make everything seem a little bit better. It was the tender loving care I needed, and, perhaps more importantly, that I wanted.

Spaghetti with Fresh Corn Pesto, Seared Scallops and Bacon
Adapted from recipe in the August issue of Bon Appetit
Generously serves 1 individual in desperate need of some TLC

Notes: I made several changes to the original recipe. Instead of the tagliatelle or fetticuni, I used whole wheat spaghetti. I actually liked the whole wheat spaghetti here – the nutty noodles went well with the sweet corn and the shape was fine for sopping up all the delicious pesto. I also used an additional strip of bacon (1 just wasn’t enough!), added zucchini for something green, and also added scallops for a salty counterpoint. The scallops certainly aren’t necessary, but they did go well with the flavors in the dish. I also omitted the olive oil, using pasta water to blend my pesto instead. Finally, I amped up the amount of garlic and basil from the original proportions. The end result was fabulous. I’ll be making it again tonight without the scallops.

1 large ear of yellow corn, shucked to yield approximately 1 cup of corn kernals
2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/3 inch wide strips
1 zucchini, sliced into slivers
2 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
3 large sea scallops
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
1 large clove of garlic, minced
½ cup basil leaves, torn into coarse pieces
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Sauté one piece of bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, stirring often. Using a slotted spoon (I operated a fork), transfer to paper towels to drain. Absorb some of the extra fat from the skillet with an additional paper towel (pouring hot bacon grease down the drain can damage pipes). Add the corn, garlic, salt and pepper to the drippings in the pan. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer heaping 1/3 cup to small bowl and reserve. Scrape remaining corn mixture into a processor. Add Parmesan and pine nuts. (Wait for pasta water to blend.)

While pan is still hot, cook the zucchini for approximately 2 minutes over medium-high heat until slightly tender. Remove from pan and set aside with reserved corn.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Add desired amount of liquid to processor with corn, parmesan and pine nuts. Blend until pesto is almost smooth.

While pasta is cooking, sauté the other piece of bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, stirring often. Remove from pan and transfer to paper towels to drain. Blot out some of the residual bacon grease and add the three scallops. Cook over medium-high heat for approximately 2-3 minutes a side depending on size. Remove and cut into chunks.

Add pasta, corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, zucchini, and ¼ cup basil leaves to the pan. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding additional pasta cooking liquid to thin to desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the scallops at the last minute, and season pasta to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to plate. Sprinkle with remaining basil leaves and reserved bacon.


Active Foodie said...

I also feel like this summer has been packed with "need to"s. I think a little TLC is just what is needed. I love the idea of a corn pesto, and the addition of scallops sounds perfect. Sounds like a perfect weekend evening to me!!

Esi said...

A weekend with nothing to do?? I haven't had that since before Memorial day :) Glad you had time to yourself despite wasting hrs watching Valentine's Day. Don't say I didn't warn you!!

bagnatic said...

there is certainly a time and place for a planless weekend.

i love fresh corn in everything. this looks really good!

Diana said...

Sonja - I hope you gave yourself some TLC after the marathon! So impressed you went after it like that. You've been such a healthy role model this year!

Esi - Haha, I know. I knew it would be, but I couldn't help myself!

Amy - I thought so too, until I realized a planless weekend is a lonely one! On the bright side, I gave my liver a nice break! ;)

Anna A. said...

Talf! Ah, don't feel bad, I know we'll reunite soon over some Ortica Pizza or perhaps a Voodoo donut? I love this recipe and kudos on the whole wheat pasta.

Aaron Tell said...

Sounds delicious. I have never heard of corn pesto. Makes me want to try a vegetarian version without the bacon or scallop.

Jenn said...

I totally hear ya!!! I've been n bombarded with so much stuff that I've just finally had some time to relax and collect myself. The price I pay for going into production on a movie in the middle of summer. hehehe...

Anyway...I saw corn, pesto and bacon in the same sentence. That's more than enough to temp me to eat it. Heck I'll eat almost anything.

The Duo Dishes said...

Taking care of the goals 'scattered into the horizon' might be the hardest part. We all need a break though. You took a good break. This corn pesto idea is such a good one. Borrowing this!

Kung Food Panda said...

Corn. (Extra) Bacon. Some ME time? Oh ya!

Have a blast on your work trip D!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

i love getting a chance to cook a totally satisfying meal, i feel like i never get to do that anymore. sorry i was napping when you called I would have loved to spend time with you this weekend, but looks like you got the me time you really needed!

nelehelen said...

i want this as my midnight snack.. right now! yummmm

stuffycheaks said...

ahh delicious! I agree on the whole wheat, i love the texture better AND its better for you. Sorry for the bad rec on V-day, but I'm sure it was at least worth it to swoon over Eric Dane and Bradley Cooper :)

Anonymous said...

The meal looks really satisfying. I like the colors and the combination of the ingredients are all so wonderful.
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