This one pot corn and tomato pasta recipe is ready in 30 minutes and needs only a handful of ingredients! Fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, and cilantro with cream cheese and fresh cilantro. Vegetarian.
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Quick, easy dinners are the BEST kind of dinners.
This dish has only six ingredients (unless you count salt and pepper, which I obviously don’t because they’re basically like oxygen or butter or anything else that makes life possible) and takes less than 30 minutes to throw together.
Also, ONE POT! (Hip hip hooraaaaaaaaay).
This corn and tomato pasta is the PERFECT farewell to summer produce – grill up some sweet corn, throw in some fresh cherry tomatoes, and top the whole thing with fresh cilantro (although it would also be tasty with basil or parsley or a mix of your favorite herbs!)
The sauce here is light and thin (it’s LITERALLY just a bit of cream cheese with some reserved pasta water, SO SIMPLE), so if you’re used to my richer, creamier cheese sauces, this will definitely taste a little bit different.
The light cream cheese sauce and minimal ingredient list makes it that much more important to use proper seasonings and high quality produce – this just won’t taste the same with winter beefsteak tomatoes as it does with fresh, sweet cherries in the summer!
Also, if you’re cooking in advance, this recipe also makes a pretty stellar next-day pasta salad. YAY FOR LEFTOVERS!
A one pot corn and tomato pasta recipe perfect for busy weeknights!
- 1 lb. pasta (I used orecchiette)
- 1/3 cup light cream cheese
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 ears sweet corn, grilled and kernels removed (you can also use frozen sweet corn)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish (use basil instead if you like!)
- Cook pasta in very salty water until al dente.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- Drain remaining water from pasta. Return pasta to the pot and return the pot to the stove.
- Add cream cheese to hot pasta and stir until cream cheese has melted.
- Add lemon juice, grilled sweet corn kernels, and cherry tomatoes to pasta and stir to combine.
- At this point, the cream cheese should have melted and the pasta might look a little bit dry. Add a splash of reserved pasta water and stir to thin the cream cheese out a bit and create a smooth but very light sauce. (If you like, you could also add olive oil, stock, or a splash of heavy cream here).
- Taste pasta and add salt and pepper as necessary. If you started with cold corn and notice the pasta isn’t as hot as you would like, this is the time to turn the heat back on to low and gently stir the pasta until it comes up to temperature. Add additional splashes of pasta water (or olive oil/stock/cream) if it looks too dry.
- Stir chopped cilantro into the pasta.
- Serve immediately and top with reserved cilantro for garnish.
Don’t forget to salt your pasta water! Seasoning makes all the difference here since there are so few ingredients, and if you omit the salt in this recipe you’ll end up with a bland dish. Pasta water should be “salty like the sea” – so give it a good dose of salt before you cook the pasta! Also, don’t skimp on the black pepper – using fresh ground black pepper (instead of pre-ground) gives this pasta a nice extra bit of flavor!
A NOTE ABOUT THE SAUCE: A bit of cream cheese is my go-to choice for creamy pastas when I don’t have time to make a proper sauce, but if you have the time, you could try this lemon parmesan sauce or a more traditional cheese sauce (some people prefer these to using just the cream cheese since more complex sauces have more flavor).
Add grilled chicken, shrimp, seitan, or tofu to this pasta to make it a little heartier. You can also swap out any seasonal veggies if tomatoes and corn aren’t in season by you. This is great with peas, asparagus, roasted squash or sweet potato, or roasted cauliflower!
If you’d like a thicker, creamier sauce, you can double the amount of cream cheese called for in this recipe.
This recipe is only as good as your ingredients. Use fresh, in-season cherry tomatoes (they’re sweeter and more flavorful than out-of-season tomatoes!) and fresh grilled sweet corn for flavors that really shine.
These photos were updated in late 2017 and the recipe was updated to streamline and simplify the cooking process, so don’t worry if it looks a little different – it will still taste great!