This creamy sweet corn pasta with basil uses sweet summer corn, zucchini and goat cheese for a simple and easy meal - no hot oven required. Just five ingredients needed!
This pasta is super creamy, but uses pasta water to thin out the cheese into a lovely, tangy sauce. Therefore it's a really light pasta that highlights the best of summer vegetables. It's one of my favorites for the ultimate easy weeknight dinner.
I came up with this sweet corn pasta because I did not want to turn on the oven since it's 100 degrees in Texas and I needed use up a ton of vegetables in my fridge. Like any good food blogger, I bring TWO bags to every farmers market and get overly zealous about everything that’s offered. I have no idea how to cook okra, but I’ll gladly buy two bags from any vendor who smiles at me. It really doesn’t even have to be a full smile…I'm a total sucker.
The Easiest Sweet Corn Pasta
I typically end up with way too much corn and zucchini during the summer, and I suspect I’m not alone in this. As I searched online for what to do with it, I realized I needed quite a few other ingredients to make most of the recipes when all I really had in the pantry was pasta. Not to worry, this is the only sweet corn pasta recipe you'll ever need again.
This creamy corn pasta with basil is one of my most favorite recipes I've ever made and I think you'll love it too! Here are a few highlights that set it apart.
- Minimal ingredients - This recipe only contains 5 main ingredients total.
- Easy to make - Any beginner chef can make this and it can either be a weeknight dinner or for a dinner party.
- Gluten free - Use your favorite gluten free pasta to make this dish fit a gluten free diet.
- Easy to substitute - Hate goat cheese? You could substitute the cheese with Boursin or cream cheese.
Because this creamy corn pasta has such minimal ingredients, it's important to focus on freshness and quality when choosing them.
- Sweet Corn - I would highly recommend getting fresh sweet corn on the cob and taking off the kernels. Fresh corn provides the best flavor and texture. In a pinch, frozen would still work but it doesn't have the same great summer flavor.
- Zucchini - Zucchini or summer squash would both work in this recipe.
- Pasta - I like to use linguine or fettuccine for this recipe, but any favorite pasta shape could work here.
- Fresh Basil - Highly recommend using fresh basil leaves here versus dried.
- Goat cheese - Often called "chèvre", this is typically sold in log form and is not an aged cheese. It's fresh, soft, and creamy. I recommend plain for this recipe, so watch out for any hidden added flavors that could throw off the taste, like a honey version. Costco and Trader Joe's both have a great deal on this.
Step by Step Process
Step 1: Boil the water and cook pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. It helps to have one with a drain insert that you can just pull out of the pot when the pasta is finished cooking.
I love to use this because I pull the pasta out of the water to stop the cooking when it's finished, and just balance it on top of the large pot of water. When I need to add the pasta to the sauce, I give it a quick dunk back into the hot water, which prevents the pasta from sticking together.
It's important to reserve the pasta water as it's integral to making the sauce.
Step 2: Cook vegetables
While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add zucchini and sweet corn, with a small amount of salt and freshly cracked black pepper, not stirring too often so it can caramelize and brown. Cook for about 6-7 minutes until they've softened and are beginning to lightly brown on both sides.
Step 3: Make the sauce
To the same pan as the vegetables, pour in the pasta water and add the goat cheese. Stir till thick and creamy, then add the pasta.
I like to use tongs to move the pasta around, making sure it's fully coated in the sauce. If you need to add more pasta water to thin it out and make it more creamy, do it 1 tablespoon at a time so you don't water it down too much.
Serve in a big bowl with salt and pepper to taste, and topped with fresh basil.
Using Pasta Water for Sauce
A creamy pasta sauce without cream? This is it! This is an excellent way to lighten up pasta dishes without sacrificing texture and flavor.
I decided to use this trick I picked up from my Pumpkin Sage Pasta where I combined the cheese with a little bit of pasta water. It helps make a creamy sauce, but much lighter in both flavor and texture.
This creamy sweet corn pasta with basil will be a hit for those nights you want a quick, oven-free meal.
Serving Suggestions for Corn Pasta with Basil
My corn pasta with basil makes a fantastic vegetarian dinner, but if you're looking to add a little more protein I would recommend.
- Air fryer salmon - use the instructions from this post but just do salt and pepper, no sauce!
- Grilled chicken
- Grilled flank steak
- Italian grilled shrimp
For an appetizer, or a great way to use up the goat cheese, I highly recommend this endive appetizer with strawberry relish.
While I don't recommend freezing this pasta as it's best enjoyed fresh, it does keep well for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
To reheat - I recommend covering the bowl with a damp paper towel or adding a small splash of water before microwaving in 30 second intervals. Stir each time, so the sauce begins to coat the noodles well and becomes creamy again. Bonus points if you save more pasta water to do this!
If you have leftover sweet corn, I recommend making this Spanish Brown Rice - it's a perfect vegetarian side dish!
Creamy Pasta Recipes
If you're looking for more creamy pasta recipes, check out these other posts. The baked goat cheese pasta and the Boursin pasta are reader favorites. And for something light and cool, try my Mediterranean Pasta Salad.
Creamy Sweet Corn Pasta
- 8 oz (½ package) pasta of choice. I used fettuccini.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ears fresh sweet corn, removed from the cob
- 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- 4 oz fresh, unflavored goat cheese
- ⅓ cup fresh basil, chopped
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Save at least a cup of pasta water before you drain it completely.
- In a large, high-sided pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Add corn kernels and sliced zucchini, cooking until softened and slightly browned about 6-7 minutes. Add about ¼ cup of pasta water and whisk in fresh goat cheese until it makes a creamy sauce. Keep adding a little bit of water until it reaches the consistency you desire (I typically don't add more than ⅓-1/2 a cup total), then season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add pasta and toss with the sauce (tongs are helpful for this step). Top with fresh basil and fresh black pepper, and serve immediately.
- This recipe makes 3 full size servings for a full meal or 4-6 for a large side.
- Use "chevre" goat cheese - the soft, creamy kind.
- To remove corn kernels, place the cob over a bowl and run a chefs knife down the sides. The kernels will fall into the bowl.