Play Me a Recipe

Tagliatelle With Corn, Tomatoes, "Onion-Bacon" & Basil

August 26, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Christine Han
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 16 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Over the years, we've made this pasta with shrimp, with bacon, and with both shrimp and bacon, and, when the tomatoes and corn are at peak sweetness, it practically shouts summer. Which is to say, it's easy, fresh, and hist notes that you can get only a few weeks a year. I worried about making an entirely plant-based version of it, but then I learned a trick from Bon Appétit's Chris Morocco: If you caramelize red onions at a low heat (for about as long as it takes to boil water and then cook the pasta), they take on a richness that rivals bacon. Add that to late August corn and tomatoes, and you've got a surefire crowd-pleaser.

Reprinted from The Weekday Vegetarians. Copyright © 2021 by Jenny Rosenstrach.Photographs copyright © 2021 by Christine Han. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

This recipe was featured on our cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Jenny slices, boils, and caramelizes her way through this recipe, offering insider tips and backstory along the way.Jenny Rosenstrach

What You'll Need
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces tagliatelle or spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups corn kernels (from about 4 medium ears)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups roughly chopped ripe tomatoes (from about 3 medium tomatoes) and their juices
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. In a separate large pot of Dutch oven set over medium-low heat, combine the onion and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir every few minutes.
  3. Cook the tagliatelle in the boiling water according to the package directions. When the pasta is just about done, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and toss it right in the strainer with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to prevent sticking.
  4. Add the butter to the red onion, which should be caramelly and slightly shriveled by this point, along with the garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute. Add the corn and tomatoes and cook until the vegetables release a lot of liquid, another 4 to 5 minutes. It should look like a bright, chunky sauce.
  5. Add the pasta and Parmesan to the vegetables, tossing to distribute and coat the pasta with the sauce. Add a drizzle of pasta water as needed to help the cheese distribute evenly. Top with basil and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • FrugalCat
  • Lyophile
  • Catherine Gregory
    Catherine Gregory

4 Reviews

Lyophile April 5, 2023
This was delicious and made SO MUCH. Like I could have fed 10. Suggest you consider how much pasta you usually make for your family and scale the recipe. Sweet canned corn and dried basil, while not ideal, were still tasty. Going in our rotation for sure.
Catherine G. September 17, 2021
As an almost-vegetarian living with an almost-vegan, I was amused by the worry about the dish tasting good without shrimp or bacon. True, those two are divine, but there's plenty of pleasure to be had without them.

We loved this dish-- very easy and made a huge amount. I used 1/2 red pepper flakes and 2 t. sea salt, and no black pepper. For protein, throw some chopped roasted almonds over the top. Absolutely delicious-- thanks!
FrugalCat September 3, 2021
I did cook the onion ( i used yellow onion) in a mix of oil and bacon grease. Does that defeat the purpose of Weekday Vegetarians? This came out great with medium shell pasta and chopped flat leaf parsley instead of basil. I did have to serve it with meatballs, as my "old school" husband will not think of any dish as a "meal" unless there is at least a little meat (or eggs, or fish) involved. Jenny, any ideas to get around that?
Catherine G. September 17, 2021
If there's an Aldi near you, they have amazing veg. meatballs you could try. I used to make my own, but no need anymore! They come in "Classic" and "Italian" varieties. Yum!