Highlighting summer's best produce in one bowl with this corn pesto pasta with parmesan chicken and bursting roasted tomatoes. Full of flavor and yet surprisingly light!
Corn Pesto Pasta with Parmesan Chicken
Roasted cherry tomatoes
- 1 lb cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 3 chicken breasts fileted
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Corn pesto pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups fresh corn kernels about 3 medium corn
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup grated parmesan divided
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Toss cherry tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Lay tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes or until softened and blistered. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Prepare parmesan chicken. Combine parmesan with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Press chicken into parmesan seasoning mix on both sides to create a parmesan crust.
- Heat 1 tablespoon in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook chicken until golden brown on both sides and the juices run clear, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add corn and saute until lightly charred. Remove from heat. Combine 1 ½ cups cooked corn with basil, garlic, ½ cup parmesan, and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook penne pasta according to directions on package until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 ½ cups of the pasta water.
- Reheat remaining cooked corn over medium heat. Add cooked pasta, corn pesto, remaining ½ cup grated parmesan, and 1 cup reserved pasta water. Stir until well coated and season with salt and pepper. If the pesto is too thick, add additional pasta water as needed. Add roasted cherry tomatoes, gently tossing to combine.
- Slice chicken and portion pasta into plates, topping pasta with sliced chicken. Sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper and finish with extra parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.
Watch how to make this:
I've been eating so much corn lately that I might soon turn into one. When in season, the vegetable is so sweet and juicy that it's hard to resist. Add a smear of butter, turn it into blackened corn on the cob, make creamed corn, the possibilities are endless. Today, I'm using the vegetable to make a corn pesto. Yes, that's right, corn pesto. It might sound unusual but the combination of fresh basil with corn and parmesan works wonderfully.
Take that fresh corn pesto and toss it with pasta and roasted cherry tomatoes for a simple meal. For an even more satisfying one, top it with parmesan chicken. This meal is easy to put together and one that the entire family will enjoy.
- Corn: For the best results use fresh corn. If corn isn't in season, you can use frozen corn but the flavor won't be as fresh.
- Basil: A sweet and slightly peppery herb with a hint of anise flavor, basil is the key ingredient in pesto.
- Chicken breast: I used chicken breast filets for the parmesan chicken but you can also use chicken thighs. Other protein options include shrimp or salmon.
- Italian seasoning: This spice mix is a blend of dried herbs including basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and sage. If you can't find Italian seasoning, make your own at home using a combination of the listed herbs.
- Parmesan: The hard, aged Italian cheese adds a rich flavor to the pasta and pesto. It also adds a deep umami taste that enhances the entire dish.
- Cherry tomatoes: Sweet roasted tomatoes compliment the sweet corn and savory parmesan, however, you can omit it if you prefer.
- Penne: Use a short pasta shape such as penne for the pasta. The short shape will adhere to the sauce better, unlike spaghetti or fettuccine. You can also use rigatoni, rotini, orzo, or fusilli.
How to Make Corn Pesto Pasta with Parmesan Chicken
Step 1: Make Corn Pesto
Corn pesto pasta with parmesan chicken is a delightful Italian-inspired dish that brings together the freshness of sweet corn and basil with the richness of Parmesan cheese. Let's start by making the corn pesto, which adds a burst of flavor to the pasta. In a saute pan, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat and saute the fresh corn kernels until they take on a light char. Once done, remove the corn from the heat and transfer 1 ½ cups of the cooked corn to a food processor or blender. Keep the remaining corn in the pan.
Add fresh basil, garlic, ½ cup of grated Parmesan, and ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Puree the mixture until smooth and season it with a pinch of salt and pepper.
If you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender instead. You can make the corn pesto the day before if you prefer.
Step 2: Cook Toppings
Now, let's prepare the roasted cherry tomatoes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the cherry tomatoes in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until they become soft and blistered. Once they're done, set them aside for later use.
You can also roast the tomatoes the day before.
Next up is the Parmesan chicken. In a large bowl, combine grated Parmesan cheese with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Take boneless, skinless chicken breasts and press them into the Parmesan seasoning mix on both sides. This will create a delicious parmesan crust on the chicken, almost like a breading.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook the chicken until it turns golden brown on both sides and the juices run clear. This should take around 7 to 8 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the heat and keep it warm.
Step 3: Toss Pasta with Sauce
Now let's move on to the pasta. Cook 12 ounces of penne pasta according to the package instructions until it's perfectly al dente. Reserve about 1 ½ cups of the pasta water before draining. The pasta water brings together the sauce with the pasta so it's important to reserve it.
Reheat the remaining cooked corn over medium heat, and then add the cooked pasta, corn pesto, remaining ½ cup of grated Parmesan, and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir everything together until the pasta is well coated in the pesto sauce. If the pesto appears too thick, you can add more pasta water as needed. Finally, add the roasted cherry tomatoes to the pasta, gently tossing them in.
Slice the parmesan-crusted chicken and portion the pasta onto plates. Top the pasta with the sliced chicken and sprinkle some freshly cracked black pepper. Go ahead and sprinkle extra Parmesan cheese if you desire.
The flavors and textures in every bite will leave you appreciating the beauty of this delightful corn pesto pasta with parmesan chicken. It's simple and straightforward ingredients but they marry together perfectly. I enjoyed the leftover pasta the next day and it was just as delicious!
Can I use storebought pesto instead?
Yes, you can. Although I prefer homemade because it tastes brighter, you can use storebought instead. Once the corn is cooked, blend it with pesto until smooth.
Can I serve this dish cold as a pasta salad?
The recipe originally intends for this dish to be served warm but it does work as a pasta salad as well. Cut the chicken into small chunks if serving as a cold pasta salad.
Can I add more vegetables to the pasta?
Absolutely! This dish is versatile and you can add your favorite vegetables such as sauteed spinach or kale, roasted bell peppers, or grilled zucchini.
For more corn-inspired dishes check out this honey jalapeno cornbread recipe!