Full of seasonal flavors, this Creamy Corn & Zucchini Summer Skillet Pasta is an easy and utterly delicious meal that is perfect for any weeknight, coming together in 45 minutes or less!
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Growing up surrounded by farmland, I’ve looked forward to sweet corn season every year as far back as I can remember. From the moment fresh, local corn hits the markets in early summer until the last harvest in fall, you will always find a few ears tucked in my fridge. While I’m perfectly happy eating it simply boiled and off the cob, I’m always looking for innovative ways to incorporate it into my summer meals.
A few years ago, I discovered the joy of cutting slightly charred kernels from the cobs of grilled corn, and things haven’t been the same since. Smoky and sweet, it’s the perfect addition to summer pastas and salads.
Creamy Corn & Zucchini Summer Skillet Pasta
This Creamy Corn & Zucchini Summer Skillet Pasta is one of my new favorite ways to enjoy farmer’s market staples like corn and zucchini. It’s simple to pull together and quick to make at home, incorporating plenty of fresh herbs and just the right amount of perfectly aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The light cream sauce tastes rich without being heavy, so it won’t bog you down in the warmer temperatures either. Best of all, it’s an easy weeknight meal that comes together in less than an hour – possibly even as little as 30 minutes if you’re good at multitasking!
Have you ever gathered up all the ingredients to make something, and then get overcome by the desire to make something totally different? That’s how this recipe came to be.
Like many others, I’ve gotten a lot of kitchen inspiration from Yotom Ottolenghi and his cookbook Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. With all the elements for his Pasta with Fried Zucchini Salad sitting out on my counter one evening, I suddenly craved a pasta with grilled corn and a cream sauce. I quickly reassessed the ingredients I had on hand, and came up with a first draft of this Creamy Corn & Zucchini Summer Skillet Pasta on the spot. I used that original recipe’s technique for frying up zucchini coins, and while I’d later reduce the amount of oil to make it more of a sauté than a fry, the slightly browned crispness his technique added was delicious. I still haven’t gotten around to making that original recipe, but I’m definitely thankful it lead me to this one!
Crumbled bacon adds a salty crunch and a little extra protein to this recipe, but it’s totally optional. You can easily leave it out to make your Corn & Zucchini Summer Skillet Pasta vegetarian friendly, or you can make some bacon up on the side if you have mixed diets in your household. It’s up to you!
If you crave sweet corn, fresh ingredients, and decadent light cream sauces like I do, you will love adding this Creamy Corn & Zucchini Summer Skillet Pasta to your recipe repertoire. Enjoy this easy recipe any night of the week!
Looking for more quick weeknight recipes? My recipe for Mushroom & Roasted Asparagus Pappardelle Pasta might be just right, or this recipe for Chicken and Shrimp Lo Mein looks fantastic! For something a little heartier, One Pot Beef Stroganoff Soup with Sauteed Mushrooms and Egg Noodles is comforting all year round.
Creamy Corn & Zucchini Summer Skillet Pasta
- 3 cups penne pasta, cooked al dente (reserve at least a half cup pasta water)
- 5 strips of bacon cooked until just crisp and broken into bite-size pieces (optional)
- 3 ears of grilled corn, kernels removed and any liquid reserved (see note)
- 2 cups zucchini, cut into coins (about 2 medium sized zucchini)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, thickly grated (plus more to serve)
- ½ cup fresh basil chopped (you can also substitute up to half of this with fresh parsley if you like – it’s delicious!)
- 1.5 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- Before anything else, start up your pasta water and begin grilling the corn (see note).
- Meanwhile, cook up your bacon until just crispy in your largest non-stick skillet, if using. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Chop up the bacon into bite-size pieces once it’s cool enough to handle. Carefully remove the bacon fat and wipe down the pan for the remaining steps.
- Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the zucchini in a single layer for 3-5 minutes per side, working in batches if necessary. Both sides should be lightly golden and a little browned. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Without cleaning the skillet, stream the heavy cream into the leftover oil, scraping up any browned bits and swirling them into the cream. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese, which will start to melt into the cream mixture, and then the fresh herbs, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to make the sauce. Once combined, toss the zucchini coins, roasted corn (and any remaining juices), and al dente pasta with the sauce. If it seems too dry, add a splash of reserved pasta water to bring things together (I usually add about ¼ cup, but this can vary).
- Portion out the creamy pasta into bowls, topping with the chopped bacon and a hearty sprinkling of grated parmesan.