Pasta

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes I see a recipe shared on Instagram and I need to make it instantly. That’s what happened with this Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil. The NY Times Cooking account shared a photo of this summery and fresh pasta dish and revealed the most intriguing part: there is no cream in this luscious dish, just pureed corn.

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve shared a bunch of recipes here that have been very successful using pureed cauliflower instead of cream so I was excited to try a similar technique with corn. Matt and I were blown away when we tried this Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil!

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil  |  Lemon & Mocha

The dish uses such simple ingredients, but it’s packed with flavor giving it that can’t-stop-eating-it quality. Unlike using pureed cauliflower to get the cream texture without the cauliflower flavor, pureeing part of the sautéed corn amplified the corn flavor so that sweet corn taste is really coating every single farfalle noodle.

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil  |  Lemon & Mocha

Zucchini and corn is a classic summer pairing so I included some sautéed zucchini to add some more veggies and texture to the dish. Additional ingredients, such as the fresh basil, parsley, Parmesan and jalapeño really make the pasta pop.

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m so excited I didn’t wait around to make this Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil so now I can make it again and again. I hope you all make this one soon!

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil  |  Lemon & Mocha

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil
 
Yield: 3 servings
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces orecchiette or farfalle
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 6-8 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (keep the whites and greens separate)
  • 2 large ears of corn, shucked and kernels removed (about 2 cups kernels)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut into half-moon rounds
  • ½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped basil, plus more for serving
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Directions
  1. Cook pasta to al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, making sure to reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the whites of the scallions, season with salt, and cook for 3 minutes. Add all the corn except keep ¼ cup of the corn aside and add ¼ cup water. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add the pepper and salt then transfer to a blender (or blend with an immersion blender) and puree until smooth.
  3. Return the sauté pan to medium-high heat to melt the butter. Add the zucchini and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ¼ cup of corn kernels, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the corn puree and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Toss to coat and cook for 1 minute then add almost all the scallion greens and Parmesan. Season with red pepper flakes and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve the pasta hot garnished with a little drizzle of olive oil, chopped scallion greens and Parmesan.

Recipe slightly adapted from NY Times.

Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce

Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes it takes a little while for me to remake a recipe. And sometimes that little while is ten years, but that’s okay, as long as it means I eventually got back to it. This Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce recipe comes deep from the archives of recipes I printed, made and tucked away in one of my binders.

Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Way back when, I only read a handful of food blogs and one of them was For the Love of Cooking. This recipe is extremely important because it introduced Matt and I to the amazingness that is roasted garlic. How little we knew of life before that moment!

Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

We made this pasta dish in Matt’s off-campus apartment the summer after junior year of college and with our limited space and kitchen equipment it was quite the ordeal. The recipe is fairly simple, there’s just a lot of ingredients and most of them require some chopping, shredding or zesting.

Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love this dish because it’s so fresh, but all the veggies get a nice depth of flavor from being roasted. Asparagus, zucchini and grape tomatoes all get roasted before being tossed with pasta, toasted pine nuts, fresh Parmesan cheese and plenty of fresh herbs. There’s two standout other mix-ins, though. The first is the tender shrimp that get marinated in olive oil, lemon zest, basil parsley and garlic. The second is that zesty roasted garlic lemon sauce that should be used on every pasta, chicken and seafood dish from now until forever.

Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

This dish is the perfect example of how some basic ingredients, like lemon, fresh herbs and roasted garlic, can take an ordinary pasta dish to a flavor-packed one that you don’t forget about for ten years. I’m so glad I finally made this dish again and with it fresh on our minds, I’m sure it won’t be another ten years until we have it again!

Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pasta with Shrimp and Roasted Veggies in a Garlic Lemon Sauce
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the shrimp
  • 1½ pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
for the pasta
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces farfalle pasta
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends removed and spears cut into thirds
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Sal and pepper
Directions
for the shrimp
  1. Combine the shrimp, olive oil, parsley, basil, garlic and lemon zest in a bowl or plastic container. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and put in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.
for the pasta
  1. Roast the garlic. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off the top of the head of garlic so almost all the cloves are exposed. Place the head of garlic in a little square of aluminum foil and curve up the sides. Lightly drizzle the garlic with some olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Seal up the foil to make a little packet. Roast for 35 minutes then carefully open the foil packet to let cool. Once it's cool enough to handle, squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves.
  2. When the garlic has 15 minutes left, start the onions. Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, lightly season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Remove the onions to a large serving bowl then sear the shrimp in the same skillet, trying not to get too much of the marinade in the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until shrimp are pink and no longer translucent. Remove from the pan and add to the serving bowl.
  3. While the onions are cooking, start boiling the water for the pasta. Cook the farfalle according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and add to the large serving bowl.
  4. On a large baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil, spread out the zucchini, asparagus and grape tomatoes. Drizzle with 2 of the teaspoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. When you take the garlic out of the oven, add the baking sheet of veggies and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and add to the serving bowl.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, roughly chop the roasted garlic cloves that you squeezed out of the skin. Combine in a small bowl with the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Pour into the serving bowl.
  6. When the onions, pasta, shrimp, veggies and roasted garlic lemon sauce have all been cooked and added to the serving bowl, toss to combine along with the Parmesan, parsley, basil and toasted pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with more Parmesan on top, if desired.

Recipe from For the Love of Cooking.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s hard to know exactly when my pasta obsession began, but it’s at least as far back as I can remember. My brother and I used to have noodles with every dinner and we would even stuff it inside pita pockets sometimes. Yes, essentially a noodle sandwich. Yes, we were odd. I think most people tend to love pasta to some degree. I mean, how can you not? It’s simple, starchy and satisfying.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Somewhere down the line I decided pasta was a cheat meal. Matt and I would go weeks without having pasta for dinner. Then this past year, especially while preparing for my healthy January posts, I started thinking a lot about what healthy food means to me and came to the conclusion that I needed to remove the pasta cheat meal mentality. Instead of nixing pasta completely I needed to rebalance my pasta meal. A plate piled high with just spaghetti, marinara and cheese could be replaced with a smaller portion of pasta loaded with veggies. But still cheese. There always has to be cheese.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since then Matt and I have been enjoying weeknight pasta, happily and healthily – at least with what healthy means to me. I now have three favorite healthy pasta hacks, two of which I have shared on Lemon & Mocha before. One is all the different types of alternative pasta on the market. I personally tend not to enjoy whole wheat pasta, but I have gladly embraced rice pasta, red lentil pasta, green bean pasta and, my new favorite, Barilla Veggie Spaghetti. No, this is not sponsored, it just tastes really good and is made with 25% vegetable puree making it slightly better for you than regular spaghetti. That is what I used in this recipe, but you can use any type of spaghetti you prefer.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

My second hack I want to share is adding cauliflower puree to make pasta sauces creamy. I used this tasty trick in the Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan recipe and it works just as well here to create a rich pesto cream sauce without any actual cream. My third healthy pasta tip that I also shared with my Winter Pesto Pasta recipe is swapping out some of the pasta for zucchini noodles.

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

In addition to all those yummy ingredients I’ve kept it simple with some spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and of course Parmesan. This healthy creamy pesto pasta comes together really quickly making it a great weeknight meal. Keep it vegetarian or eat with some meatballs or chicken sausage. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Creamy Pesto Pasta with Zucchini, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces spaghetti (I used Barilla Veggie Spaghetti)
  • 1 cup frozen cauliflower florets
  • ⅓ cup pesto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach
  • 2 zucchinis, noodled; about 2.5 cups
  • ⅔ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
  • Fresh chopped basil for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Boil water for the pasta in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and set your timer according to the package instructions (mine was for 9 minutes). When there are 6 minutes left on your timer, add the cauliflower florets. When the timer goes off, drain the pasta and cauliflower, being sure to reserve 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Carefully separate out the cauliflower florets. In a high-speed blender, puree the cooked cauliflower florets, reserved cooking liquid and the pesto until smooth. Alternatively you could puree the cauliflower then just stir it into the pesto if you like the texture of the pesto and don’t want it completely smooth.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost wilted then add the zucchini noodles and the sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds then remove from the heat.
  3. Add the pesto mixture, the spaghetti and the Parmesan to the sauté pan. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve topped with additional Parmesan and fresh chopped basil.

 

Winter Pesto Pasta

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

Winter Pesto Pasta is a cozy dish loaded with roasted butternut squash and mushrooms that is sure to warm you up during these chilly winter days. Whenever Matt and I are craving pasta I like to load it up with lots of veggies and I love the ease and the taste of roasted vegetables, especially in the wintertime.

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

I also used a mix of spaghetti and zucchini noodles to sneak in even more vegetables. You can spiralize the zucchini yourself or pretty much every grocery store now sells spiralized vegetable noodles. The best part is that you just throw them into the water when the pasta is almost done cooking so it could not be easier to add zucchini noodles into your pasta dishes. You could keep the meal vegetarian, but I served it alongside my Baked Pesto Turkey Meatballs – love those!

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

The star of the whole dish, though, is the quick and easy homemade pesto. I love tomato sauce, but we are both way more into pesto around here. My favorite seed butter company, 88 Acres, which is a local Massachusetts company, sent me some of their new products to try in exchange for sharing them on Instagram. The exchange didn’t involve my blog at all; I’m purely sharing this here because their new product prompted me to discover my new favorite homemade pesto hack.

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

Instead of grinding down seeds or nuts to use in the pesto, I just used some of their new no-sugar added pumpkin seed butter. I combined the pumpkin seed butter, basil, Parmesan, garlic powder, a little olive oil and some salt to taste. It was creamy, flavor-packed and saved me from having to buy pricey pine nuts.

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m excited to try this new hack with other seed butters! I would recommend using one that has no-sugar added though to avoid adding sugar to your pesto. You could also try making this pesto with roasted pumpkin seeds and adding more olive oil, which I’m sure would be really good, too. Do you like experimenting with different types of pesto or do you have a go-to one you make all the time?

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

Winter Pesto Pasta
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup small diced butternut squash
  • 6 medium whole cremini mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
  • 2½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons no-sugar added pumpkin seed butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
  • 1 zucchini, zoodled
  • Baked Pesto Turkey Meatballs, optional
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper and place the butternut squash cubes and quartered mushrooms in a single layer. Toss the veggies with ½ tablespoon of olive oil then sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt and some fresh ground black pepper. Roast the veggies for 25 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized, tossing once halfway through baking.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. When the spaghetti is 2 minutes away from being done, toss in the zucchini noodles. Drain the spaghetti and the zucchini noodles together once tender in a colander.
  3. While the water is coming to a boil for the pasta, make the pesto. Combine the basil, Parmesan, pumpkin seed butter, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder and salt to taste in a food processor. Add more olive oil if needed, about 1 tablespoon more. Pulse until smooth.
  4. When the spaghetti and zucchini noodles have been drained, add them back to the pot along with the pesto, butternut squash and mushrooms. Toss to combine. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan on top and baked pesto turkey meatballs, if desired.

 

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

Two years ago, Matt and I went to California for our one year wedding anniversary. Our first stop was Los Angeles to visit Hollywood, tour movie studios, and, most importantly, eat all the food. On our last night in LA, we went to this Italian restaurant near our hotel called Jon & Vinny’s. Thankfully I had called ahead because when we got to the restaurant there was huge line, but they sat us right at the counter where we could watch all the chefs make the homemade pastas and pizzas. Watching the food be made had us drooling and we ate our way through fresh burrata, incredible pastas and a warm baked bread pudding. We also had our only celebrity sighting of the trip eating dinner there – Gillian Jacobs!

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

The next morning we both woke up thinking about Jon & Vinny’s. We couldn’t stop thinking about firstly, how delicious it was, and secondly, how much we regretted not ordering a pizza since they looked so good the night before. I finally went to their website and saw that not only were they open for brunch (on a weekday – that’s LA for you), but they also had pizza on their brunch menu! Matt and I headed straight to Jon & Vinny’s and gorged ourselves on bomboloni (Italian filled doughnuts), Nutella and olive oil toast and of course, homemade pizza. Ever since our back-to-back meals, Matt and I joke about heading to LA for the weekend just to eat at Jon & Vinny’s and we probably will do it one of these days.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

In the meantime, I was so excited to discover the recipe for their fusilli alla vodka with basil and Parmesan on Bon Appetit’s website! I decided I wanted to be able to enjoy the meal at home more regularly instead of just once in a while as a treat so I made a few changes to turn the dish into a skinny version. This Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan has all the flavors of the classic dish complete with plenty of cheese on top, but I’ve made a few swaps.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

The biggest is that cauliflower puree is being substituted for the heavy cream. As I learned with the sun-dried tomato sauce from the Chicken Schnitzel and Pesto Spaetzle dish, cauliflower puree is a creamy, flavorful and incredibly healthy substitute for heavy cream.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

I also reduced the amount of pasta and replaced it with some chicken and spinach. The end result is so delicious that I think Matt and I could eat it for every meal… at least until we get back to LA to eat our weight in the authentic version!

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, about 7-8 medium-large florets
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons vodka
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces fusilli
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce fresh grated Parmesan, about ¼ cup, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray
Directions
  1. Make the cauliflower puree. Bring the chicken broth, vegetable broth or water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets, cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower and liquid to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray then heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F, turning and stirring the chicken in the pan as needed. Remove from the pan and carefully wipe the pan.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and cook until the paste starts to caramelize, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vodka and stir constantly until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the pureed cauliflower, spinach leaves and the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let the spinach wilt. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave everything in the pan.
  4. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquid.
  5. Place the skillet back over medium low heat and add the pasta, ½ cup of the pasta liquid, 1 tablespoon butter and the cooked chicken. Cook and stir until the butter has melted and it has formed a thick sauce. If it is too thick, add some more pasta water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide between 4 bowls and top with the basil and more Parmesan.
Notes
The vodka sauce can be made 5 days in advance. Cover and store in the fridge.
Use any type of pasta you prefer. We used pasta with added protein.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.