Smoky Chipotle Pasta With Toasted Corn Recipe

If spaghetti with marinara or fettuccine Alfredo just isn't cutting it on pasta night anymore, perhaps this smoky chipotle pasta with toasted corn will help liven up your routine. This slightly spicy, smoky, and cheesy pasta dish is brought to us by recipe developer Tanika Douglas, and she highlights the pasta's unique and somewhat unexpected flavors. "The spice of the chipotle peppers, the roasted sweet corn, and the salty umami-rich Parmesan make such a brilliant combination," she says. 

Another perk to this pasta dish, despite being such a refined, beautiful dish in its completed form, is that it's not at all difficult to make. You can enjoy a bowlful of the chipotle-infused pasta all on its own, though Douglas notes that it also pairs well with a leafy salad. "For a protein boost, shredded barbecued chicken is a great lean addition, but sauteed chorizo would also add a beautiful, hearty flavor," she recommends, should you want to bulk up your bowlful a little bit. And, if you go the dinner party route, perhaps you'd be so inclined as to take Douglas' approach: "I highly recommend this delicious pasta as a simple main, with a bowl of classic homemade guacamole and corn chips as a starter, and of course, churros with dulce de leche sauce for dessert" — sounds like a buzz-worthy dinner party to us.

Gather the ingredients for smoky chipotle pasta with toasted corn

The pasta of choice for this recipe is spaghetti, which will perfectly lap up all of the chipotle-infused, creamy sauce. Speaking of the sauce, you'll build it with the help of onion, garlic, pureed chipotle peppers, salt, pepper, baby spinach, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese. You'll also need olive oil and some corn to make the toasted corn portion of the dish. As a final garnish, be sure to have extra Parmesan and some fresh basil on hand.

Step 1: Heat olive oil

Place a large skillet over medium heat and drizzle in the olive oil.

Step 2: Toast the corn

Add the corn kernels and toast, stirring intermittently, for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Step 3: Set some corn aside

Remove ⅓ of the toasted corn kernels from the pan and set aside.

Step 4: Cook the spaghetti

While the corn is toasting, cook the spaghetti according to the packet directions.

Step 5: Drain the spaghetti

Drain the spaghetti, setting aside 1 cup of pasta water.

Step 6: Saute onion and garlic

To the pan of roasted corn kernels, add the sliced onion and minced garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.

Step 7: Build the sauce

Next, add the baby spinach, cream, salt, pepper, and pureed chipotle peppers to the pan. Stir over heat until the spinach wilts and the sauce reduces.

Step 8: Bring the dish together

Lastly, add the cooked spaghetti, the reserved pasta water, and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Toss together.

Step 9: Garnish and serve

Spoon the spaghetti into bowls, then garnish with the basil leaves, reserved toasted corn kernels, and remaining ½ cup Parmesan. Enjoy.

Can I use a different shape of pasta for this corn pasta recipe?

Spaghetti is a classic pasta shape that most often gets paired up with tomato sauce and maybe some meatballs on the side. This recipe breathes new life into the versatile pasta, offering an inventive way to put those long strands to good use. Though spaghetti does work well in this recipe, there's plenty of room to switch things up and make good use of the different pasta shapes sitting in your pantry. 

"For a hearty cozy option, macaroni would work fabulously, and for a sleek approach, tagliatelle would be a brilliant option," Douglas tells us, though she does advise to pay close attention to the sauce should you use a different pasta shape: "Different pasta varieties absorb liquid differently and are coated by the sauce in different ways ... If the sauce thickens up too much once stirred through the pasta, simply stir through an extra splash of pasta water to help loosen it."

As for what types of pasta to strictly avoid, Douglas has but one: orzo. Paired with such a creamy sauce, rice-shaped orzo would create something closer to risotto — not necessarily bad, but it wouldn't have that true pasta feel to it.

How can I adjust the heat and seasoning level in this chipotle pasta?

You can expect a subtly spicy flavor profile in this pasta dish thanks to the inclusion of chipotle peppers and plenty of smoky goodness. That flavor is irresistible to some, but to others, it can be a bit much. "The heat in the dish can be easily controlled by adjusting the amount of chipotle pepper used in the sauce," Douglas explains. "If you prefer a more mild sauce, simply use half the amount of chipotle peppers, and proceed with cooking as usual."

Of course, if you love those spicy, smoky flavors, you may want to amp things up a bit, and there's room to do that as well. The simplest way to increase the spice level is to add more chipotle peppers, though Douglas notes that a hefty sprinkle of chile flakes will also add some heat. "This is a great way for the individual to taste and season the dish according to their spice preferences," she says, so you can always follow the recipe as-is and then add chili flakes to your plated dish. 

Smoky Chipotle Pasta With Toasted Corn Recipe
4.8 from 5 ratings
Smoky chipotle peppers join charred, toasted corn in this creamy spaghetti recipe, which also features fresh basil and wilted spinach for bright, fresh flavors.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
spaghetti twirling on fork
Total time: 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans corn kernels
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons pureed chipotle peppers
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • ½ + ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Directions
  1. Place a large skillet over medium heat and drizzle in the olive oil.
  2. Add the corn kernels and toast, stirring intermittently, for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. Remove ⅓ of the toasted corn kernels from the pan and set aside.
  4. While the corn is toasting, cook the spaghetti according to the packet directions.
  5. Drain the spaghetti, setting aside 1 cup of pasta water.
  6. To the pan of roasted corn kernels, add the sliced onion and minced garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
  7. Next, add the baby spinach, cream, salt, pepper, and pureed chipotle peppers to the pan. Stir over heat until the spinach wilts and the sauce reduces.
  8. Lastly, add the cooked spaghetti, the reserved pasta water, and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Toss together.
  9. Spoon the spaghetti into bowls, then garnish with the basil leaves, reserved toasted corn kernels, and remaining ½ cup Parmesan. Enjoy.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 1,198
Total Fat 66.2 g
Saturated Fat 35.7 g
Trans Fat 1.1 g
Cholesterol 164.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 107.4 g
Dietary Fiber 8.3 g
Total Sugars 13.0 g
Sodium 1,239.9 mg
Protein 51.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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