Sweet, chewy dried tomatoes and brown butter infused with orange zest and spicy chile boost the whole-grain flavors of the pasta in this simple yet scrumptious weeknight dish. Thai basil has a peppery aroma with licorice notes that’s especially nice with the pasta and corn, but Italian basil can substitute.
Fine sea salt
12 oz. whole-grain penne
2-1/2 cups (12 oz.) fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into a few pieces
1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest, preferably organic (from 1 large orange)
1 Fresno or other small fresh red chile, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
1 oz. (1 cup) finely grated pecorino romano; more for serving
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup packed torn fresh basil leaves (1/2 oz.), preferably Thai basil
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. cook the pasta according to package directions until not quite al dente. Add the corn and cook for 1 minute.
Meanwhile, place a small heatproof bowl next to the stove. in a small heavy-duty saucepan (preferably stainless steel so you can monitor the color of the butter), melt the butter over medium-low heat and cook, watching closely and swirling occasionally, until it is golden brown with brown specks, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the orange zest and chile (it will sizzle and foam), and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, then immediately pour into the bowl.
Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and corn, and return the mixture to the pot or a large heated serving bowl. Using a large serving spoon, stir in 1/4 cup of the pasta water, the butter mixture, cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss vigorously for about 2 minutes until a glossy sauce forms, adding a bit more cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt. Sprinkle with the basil. Serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table.
nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 370, Fat Calories (kcal): 130, Fat (g): 15, Saturated Fat (g): 9, Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5, Cholesterol (mg): 35, Sodium (mg): 880, Carbohydrates (g): 54, Fiber (g): 6, Sugar (g): 3, Protein (g): 11