November 2, 2011

Salt-Free Corn and Brussels Pasta

Sometimes the best things are the most simple. Like snuggling up in a blanket on a blustery, winter day. Or soaking in the sun while you wait for a friend to arrive. Or eating this pasta, with only a few ingredients and lots of flavor.

Roasted corn is awesome. Whether you use a grill or your oven, giving the yellow and white kernels a little extra love and char suddenly adds a deep smokiness to an already sweet ingredient.

And because of its texture, taste, and creamy quality, it pairs incredibly well with tacos, soups, on top of fish and chicken, and of course salads.

But pasta? I hadn’t considered it in pasta.

Sure, a cold pasta salad.But hot pasta–now that’s a whole different situation.

Hot pasta means roasted tomatoes and peppers. Powerful herbs. Leafy greens. And much heavier flavors that could quickly overpower the corn.

Here’s the thing though. Remember that corn is naturally milky. And when combined with all the traditional pasta elements (and of course some good olive oil or browned butter), that summery kernel gives warm pastas a creamy pop, like a shot of white sauce. Which makes me think…a creamy white corn sauce would be an awesome cheese sauce substitute…now isn’t that a good idea.

But I digress. Back to the pot of boiling noodles.

I decided to go with this idea–the corn pasta–and pair it with other twists on traditional pasta ingredients.

In place of tomato sauce, I used roasted red peppers. Instead of spinach, I used finely chopped Brussel sprouts. And instead of red onion, I used shallots for a milder savory kick.

For extra heat, I also threw in some chopped cayenne and jalapeno. And as for the noodles, definitely use a thick variety with grooves. You want those nooks and crannies to scoop up all the pepper juices and corn cream.

And because most of the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time (roasting, charring, noodle cooking), everything (including the brussels sprouts) can be quickly heated in a pan right before serving. That way, the greens stay bright and the flavors stay fresh.

With a few pinches of freshly ground black pepper and an extra drizzle of olive oil, you’re ready to eat.

So remember pairing unlikely ingredients in unlikely ways is an easy means of wowing your palate and creating lots of zing without salt.

And as always, chow on.


  • 2 to 3 red bell peppers, stem and seeds removed
  • 3 cups of frozen corn (or fresh from the cob)
  • 6 big handfuls of dried noodles
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, stems removed and thinly sliced (22mg sodium per cup)
  • 1 jalapeno and 1 cayenne pepper, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Turn broiler onto high. Place peppers on a sheet pan and put them in the oven, directly under the broiler flame. Watch the peppers carefully and when the skin turns black, puckered, and charred (about 5 minutes), use tongs to carefully turn them onto their side. Continue to rotate until the entire pepper has been roasted. Remove them from the pan and place into a paper bag or bowl and close tightly. Let the peppers steam and cool at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, turn the broiler off and preheat the oven to 400 dg F. Place the corn on the same sheet pan that had the peppers and spread out the kernels so they are in a single layer. Place the corn into the oven and cook until kernels begin to brown, 20 minutes. Remove the pan and use a spatula to mix up the kernels, turning them on their other side, and put back into the oven for another 20 minutes. Remove the corn and set aside.
Fill a large pot 3/4 of the way with water, cover, and bring to a boil. When bubbles are roaring, add your noodles and cook until al dente or according to the package. Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Then drain the noodles with a colander, rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, and place the noodles in a bowl with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking.
Now that the peppers are cool, remove them from the paper bag or the bowl and peel back the burned skin. It should slide right off. Then, cut the peppers into thin slices and set aside.
In a wide pot or large, high-sided pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Allow it to brown, about 3 minutes, and when it gives off that nutty flavor, add the shallot and garlic. Cook until the shallot and garlic have also turned golden brown, another 3 minutes, and then add in your noodles, cooking and stirring everything for 10 minutes. Add in the peppers, the corn, the Brussels sprouts, and half of the past water, and let the flavors mix and marry for another 5 to 8 minutes. Right before serving, add the jalapeno and cayenne and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Then add the freshly ground pepper. Mix. And serve while warm.
Optional: Want some extra texture? Through the pasta into ramekins or a casserole dish and put under the broiler for 5 minutes to give the top noodles some crunch.



waiwa November 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

yum looks great!

Anne Marie November 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Where do I “print” a recipe I am interested in trying? Thanks!!

Pearlie M. Krenicky March 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Please print Salt-Free Corn and Brussels Pasta Recipt

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