Creamy Corn Penne with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes (vegan)

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Creamy Corn Penne with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes!  This dish is the perfect bite of summer with sweet corn, basil and cherry tomatoes!  Gluten free and vegan too!

Guys, I’m not gonna lie, this recipe is pretty freaking good!  You know sometimes when you try a recipe for the first time and you have no idea if it is going to be awesome or a complete dud?  Well, this one is certainly not a dud!  I saw this recipe for spaghetti with corn carbonara and crab in the latest edition of Food & Wine magazine and I was so intrigued by it.

Carbonara pasta has always interested me but I’ve never gotten around to making it myself.  And, to be honest, I’m a little scared of the whole adding the raw egg part.  I’m sure it cooks up just fine and is delicious, but it seems like you gotta move really fast to make things turn out correctly and that just makes me nervous!  So, when I saw this corn carbonara recipe I just had to try it, not to mention that it is summertime and corn should go into every recipe you are making these days :)

So, I bought my corn, cut off all the kernels, blended them up in the blender, strained the pulp from the liquid and then I threw out the pulp and kept the liquid.  The whole time I was wondering how I was gonna thicken up the liquid but for some reason it never occurred to me that you actually use the thick pulp for the recipe and not the liquid, oooopps!  Would you judge me if I told you that I then scooped the pulp out of the trashcan (I swear there wasn’t anything gross in there!) and mixed it in with my spaghetti just to make sure I actually liked the dish before trying it again the correct way?!

Creamy Corn Penne with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes {vegan{

So, I tried it again the very next day and this pasta is seriously one of the best pastas I’ve ever made!  The corn makes it so creamy without adding any dairy and the basil, tomatoes, and lemon zest give it a really fresh taste that is absolutely perfect for summer!

I tried using gluten free spaghetti noodles in one of the batches and I had a little trouble keeping them from all congealing together when I put them in the sauce.  I ultimately decided to use gluten free corn penne, just to keep the corn theme going, and it worked so much better for me.  But, if you would like to make it more of a carbonara feel free to use spaghetti noodles.

Creamy Corn Penne with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes {vegan}-0846

Rather than waste all the delicious corn liquid that I stained out, I’m planning on sharing a 3 Ingredient Sweet Corn and Coconut Milk popsicle recipe with you on Thursday!  So, if you do make this pasta before Thursday make sure to keep the extra liquid so you can make yummy popsicles too!  It will stay good in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.


Creamy Corn Penne with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes (vegan)

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6
  • Category: Entree, Gluten Free, Vegan


  • 5 ears of corn, shucked
  • 12 ounces penne pasta, I used gluten free corn pasta
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, I used Earth Balance
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon, plus finely grated zest for garnish
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 1 small container cherry tomatoes, cut in half, I used an 11 ounce container


  1. On a cutting board, cut the kernals off the cobs and then scrape the pulp off the cobs as well. Transfer the kernals to a blender and blend for about 30 seconds, until smooth. Place a strainer over a large bowl and pour the corn puree into the strainer. Use a spoon to help press on the solids. Strain until most of the liquid is in the bowl and you are left with thick corn pulp in the strainer.
  2. Bring to boil a large pot of water and cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the butter, shallots, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add in the corn pulp and lemon juice. Slowly add in some of your pasta water to thin out the sauce a little bit. I used about 1 1/4 cups of pasta water, but you can use as much or as little as you like. Continue cooking, stirring often, until pasta is finished cooking. Drain pasta and add it to the corn mixture. Mix until everything is combined and then add the basil and cherry tomatoes. Garnish each bowl with lemon zest and fresh basil, if desired.

Adapted from this Spaghetti with Corn Carbonara and Crab from Food & Wine Magazine

Creamy Corn Penne with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes {vegan}-0871


Creamy Corn Penne with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes {vegan}-0861

Creamy Corn Penne with Basil & Cherry Tomatoes {vegan}-0877

Creamy Corn Penne with Basil and Cherry Tomatoes

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    • She Likes Food says

      Thank you, Dannii!! I was so impressed with how it came out! Thanks so much for sharing :) I hope you really enjoy it!

    • She Likes Food says

      Thanks Gayle!! I was kinda skeptical at first, but it is seriously so creamy and delicious! You won’t miss the cheese at all!

  1. says

    Oh I love recipes that do that… an instantaneous “I’ve gotta try that” and next thing you know, you’re in the kitchen whipping it up! I’ve never made carbonara though, but am interested for sure! What a fun way to enjoy corn, too! I’m waiting for our local corn to come in… and in the mean time, I’m drooling over all the recipes online and in print. I absolutely love corn! Delicious recipe Izzy! 😀

    • She Likes Food says

      Me too, Traci! I see so many recipes everywhere all the time that I could never have enough time to make them all, so it is always nice when you get to make some of them! I hope you get your local corn in soon! Corn is such a great summer ingredient :) I think you would love this recipe!

  2. says

    Ewww…you ate out of your trash?! Gross! Lol. 😉

    I’m only kidding! I’m glad you decided to rescue the pulp because I’m in love with this recipe! I’ve always felt the same exact way about carbonara. It looks delicious but the raw egg deters me every time. That, and corn is my favorite thing ever so I know I would love this. It’s brilliant. I’ll definitely be giving it a try soon!

  3. says

    I am a complete and total corn FREAK right now so this gorgeous pasta is calling my name! I seriously cannot even stand how awesome that creamy corn sauce looks with those pretty herbed cherry tomatoes! Summer’s perfect pasta right here. 😉
    P.S. were total summery pasta blog buddies, girl! yay!!

  4. says

    YUUUUHS!! I love making “creamy” sauces out of veggies and it never registered in my mind to use corn.This is so brilliant and I can seriously taste the flavors through my computer screen. I want it for breakfaaaast! Love this, girl!

  5. says

    I have been such a sweet corn kick lately, so I must try this out! It looks absolutely amazing! I never knew you could get such a creamy sauce from corn. I love how you’ve freshened everything up with tomatoes and basil, too. Isn’t it fun when your experiments taste amazing on the first try?

  6. Jeri says

    Let’s just rename this Summer Loving. This could replace all pasta salads or potato salads served with summer barbecue

  7. says

    I totally agree about the raw egg thing- this definitely looks like a carbonara I could love! What a creative use of corn, and it looks so fresh and summery- great shots!

  8. says

    This definitely doesn’t look like a dud, Izzy — it looks downright delicious! I can’t get enough corn, and making a pasta sauce with it is a phenomenal idea. Pinned to try!

  9. says

    Wow! That’s such a fantastic idea to use pureed corn as a sauce. Sounds so good!

  10. Faith says

    This sounds delicious, and I think I’m going to make it for dinner tonight! One (possibly dumb) question – do you steam/boil the corn first, or do you just take the raw kernels and blend? Thanks for the recipe!


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