Cast Iron

Elote Rigatoni

May 24, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

A big bowl of rigatoni inspired by Mexican street corn. The stuff of summery weeknight dreams. Save any leftovers for tomorrow’s pasta salad. —Emma Laperruque

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 ears corn, shucked, and kernels cut off (about 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (remove pith and seeds for less spice)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or Microplaned
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 pound rigatoni (or other short pasta shape)
  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons just-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup grated or crumbled cotija, plus more for topping
In This Recipe
  1. Add the canola oil to a cast-iron skillet and set over high heat. When it’s hot and shimmery, add the corn. Season with salt, stir, then pat the corn into an even layer. Cook for about 12 minutes, tossing once or twice but mostly leaving alone—this encourages dramatic browning (just what we want!).
  2. Meanwhile, set a large pot of water over high heat. Season with salt, to taste, until very salty.
  3. When the corn is colorful, turn off the heat and add the jalapeño, garlic, and chili powder. Stir, then let be while you tend to the rest of the recipe.
  4. When the water is boiling, add the rigatoni. Depending on the brand and how al dente you like your pasta, it’ll cook for anywhere between 10 and 14 minutes, so taste a noodle here and there.
  5. While that cooks, add the corn mixture, mayonnaise, lime juice, chives, cilantro, and cotjia to a big bowl. Stir.
  6. When the pasta is done, use a spider to transfer the pasta to the bowl with the corn (any water clinging to them is welcome here). Toss. Season with salt and chili powder to taste. Top with more chives, cilantro, and cotija. You could eat this immediately, or save for later as a room-temp or even cold pasta salad.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.