This recipe came pretty much from leftovers. Really. We looked in the fridge, saw a few limes that needed to be used, half a carton of heavy cream, three ears of corn, and a few egg whites left over from making pastry cream for the Blueberry Cream Tart. How in the heck can we make a meal using those four ingredients? It took a while, but it all came together, and we’ll tell you how we came up with the idea.
First up, egg whites. There are several uses for egg whites that most people know of: meringue, almond macaroons, cakes, various frostings, etc., but what about savory dishes? We’re not fond of egg-white omelets, or scrambled egg-whites, or even egg-white frittata, so anything with recognizable whites is out. Ah, pasta. Pasta can be made using whole eggs, egg yolks, egg whites, or no eggs. Great, we’ll have some sort of pasta. Hmm, what shape? Let’s try something new, say, hand-made spaghetti, or pici. Perfect. And we had Tuesday’s post in mind.
Now the limes, corn, and cream. We could do creamed corn. But with pasta? Nah. How about something like an Alfredo sauce with corn? Yeah, that would work. But how do we make the corn stand out? Let’s grill it so it’s a bit smoky. Plus, we could use some lime juice to add a bit more flavor to the corn (hence, Monday’s post). Perfect. But the lime flavor won’t be noticeable in the cream sauce. It will if we add lime zest to the sauce (zest won’t make the cream curdle, will it? I doubt it), and squeeze a of lime on top to finish the dish. Yeah, let’s do it!
And so, out of a few odds and ends, we came up with this dish. Try scratchin’ it up yourself and let us know how you like it.
Since we made this from random items in our fridge, we really can’t say too much, except that the Parmesan cheese needs to be real. The kind you grate. With a grater. Real Parmesan does not come in a green cylinder with a shaker top. And, if you’re going out to buy the cream, look for cream without additives — yes, those pesky additives are in everything now, including things that don’t need them, such as cream.
Procedure in detail:
Cut kernels. Sure, you can find tips for cutting the kernels from ears of corn all over the Internet. Use a bundt pan, use a special tool. We find that just cutting them off with a chef’s knife works pretty well. Once you cut off the kernels, whichever way you do it, set them aside.
Zest limes. While you’re doing some prep work, might as well zest the limes. We used to use a chef’s knife for this task, but we now have one of those microplane graters that makes fine zest in seconds. If you’re not careful, it’ll zest your fingers in a trice, too. Set the zest and the limes aside after you’ve finished zesting.
Melt butter with garlic. Some people have this notion that Italian food has a lot of garlic. Hooey! We want just a hint of garlic, so slice a clove in half, place it in a large skillet (everything will end up in there) with the butter, and set the heat to low. Let the butter melt, swish around the garlic from time to time, and, when the garlic starts to brown, after about 20 minutes, remove and discard. There, butter with a slight garlic flavor.
Add cream and zest. Add 1 cup of the cream and the lime zest to the garlic butter, turn the heat to medium, and allow the cream to come to a boil. It should take about 5 minutes, and you can stir the mixture from time to time.
Add corn. Stir in the corn kernels, and let everything come back to a boil to make sure the corn is heated through. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until the pici is just slightly chewy in the center. The amount of time will depend on the thickness and how long the pasta dried before use. Drain thoroughly.
Add pasta, cream, and cheese. Stir the pasta into the cream and corn mixture, add the Parmesan cheese and remaining cream. Increase the heat to medium, and stir until the cheese melts into a nice sauce.
Season. Taste, most likely saying yum while you do, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Serve. Divide into warmed bowls, squeeze on more lime juice and top with a bit more grated Parmesan. Place a couple of lime wedges on the side.
A tip: to have warmed bowls at the ready, we find it easy enough to set them in the oven on the lowest setting.
For an incongruous set of ingredients, this made one pretty amazing dish. Lime, or lemon, for that matter, goes very well with Parmesan and pasta, although we prefer lime as it doesn’t seem so overwhelming in terms of tartness/sourness. Sure, limes are tart, but they’re tempered more by the cheese, making for a better dish. Of course, since this is a cream sauce, it’s the perfect place to show off fresh-made pasta (red sauces can mask the taste), and the pici worked well, holding a lot of sauce. We also liked the slight smoky taste from the corn, and, while it was reminiscent of creamed corn, it, too, improved with the addition of lime. And, just to let you know, the cream did not curdle. Told you. Five stars.