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Plate of creamy sweet corn pasta topped with basil leaves.
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4 from 2 votes

Creamy Sweet Corn Pasta

Jeanine says, "My favorite thing about Chicago in the summer is that sweet corn is everywhere. There’s nothing like fresh, midwestern bicolored sweet corn, and I like to use it every day while it’s available during its relatively short season. In this pasta, the sweet, juicy corn kernels paired with the “milk” from the cobs become a perfect cream sauce without using actual cream. Cashews add richness, lemon (of course) adds some zing, and smoked paprika adds a smoky depth of flavor."
Permission to reprint by Jeanine Donofrio and Avery Books.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Entrées, Pasta
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan
Servings: 4
Calories: 551kcal


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 5 ears corn kernels cut from cobs, about 4 cups, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup water plus more if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste
  • 12 ounces pappardelle or pasta of choice
  • 2 scallions finely sliced
  • 3 packed cups fresh spinach
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup sliced fresh basil for serving, optional
  • microgreens (for serving, optional)


  • Slice the kernels off the corn cobs, then use the back of a chef's knife to scrape the milky liquid that's left on the cob.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add 1½ cups of corn kernels and the whole crushed garlic cloves and cook until tender, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a blender and add the milky corn liquid, cashews, water, lemon juice, smoked paprika, the ½ teaspoon of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Blend until creamy, adding more water as needed to create a pourable consistency. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the hot pasta water, then drain.
  • Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining 2½ cups of corn, the scallions, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach, hot pasta, the corn sauce, and ¼ to ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, as needed to create a creamy sauce. Season to taste and serve immediately with the sliced basil and microgreens, if using.



~Use gluten free pasta to make this recipe gluten free.


Calories: 551kcal | Carbohydrates: 93g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Sodium: 251mg | Potassium: 321mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2150IU | Vitamin C: 16.5mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 4.9mg