Who says pantry ingredients can't be decadent? A little saffron and cream give this dish richness, while a humble pantry staple—canned corn!—is the secret to its silky smooth consistency and subtle sweetness. You can swap out linguine for whatever pasta you have on hand. Fresh basil and lemon add a nice zing if you have it. Good on its own for a quick and easy pasta fix, this dish also works as a side to shellfish, lambchops, or a simple roast chicken. —laura
dried linguine or other pasta
can of sweet corn (use juices too)
concentrated stock base (I use Better Than Bouillon Chicken)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Meanwhile, puree the canned corn (juices and all), along with the saffron and concentrated stock base in a blender until smooth.
Warm a wide pan on another burner on low to medium heat and add the olive oil, then the shallot and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the contents of the blender to the pan and continue to stir and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Incorporate the cream and taste, then season with salt and fresh ground pepper to your liking. Keep warm on low heat.
Cook the linguine (or other pasta) to al dente according to the package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.
Add a spoonful of the reserved pasta water to loosen up the sauce (more if desired) and taste again for seasoning. Reserve one cup of the sauce to the side for later. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and gently mix to coat each strand well.
Serve immediately. I like to spoon a little of the reserved sauce at the bottom of the bowl as well as on top, since the pasta absorbs it quickly. Finish with a sprinkle of lemon juice and zest and some basil leaves.