Fettuccine & Sweet Corn Cream

Fettuccine tossed in almond & corn cream sauce with greens makes a perfect summer dinner. Lighter than a dairy cream sauce but no less delicious. Vegan.

Oh, corn… if you’re not from the midwest, you don’t really know corn… in the same way that if you’ve never been to southern Italy, you’ve never truly experienced a tomato.

Jack doesn’t “get” corn. But he’s from Florida, so he never grew up with late-July anticipation of the sweet, crunchy, juicy goodness that is Illinois bi-color corn. (And truthfully, I think the closest he got to “corn” as a child was via Frito-Lay).

If I had peak-season Illinois corn, I wouldn’t even be cooking it this much. This is a summery dish you make when you live somewhere that doesn’t have Illinois corn (or you could even use frozen corn). We have this pretty good corn in Texas right now. I usually eat it doused with chipotle chile powder (another good application for “pretty good” corn). But this time I was craving something a little bit more subtle.

This creamy sauce, made from corn and almonds, is luscious and a just tad bit rich… but on the (way) lighter side than traditional creamy fettuccine. I tossed in some spicy arugula for contrast…In case no one’s noticed, I’m kind of an arugula addict.

Fettuccine & Sweet Corn Cream

Serves: 4
For the sweet corn cream: (makes 2 cups, you will have extra)
  • 1½ cup almonds, blanched, skins removed*
  • 1½ cups corn kernels, blanched (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons agave or honey (to taste)
  • Sea salt
For the pasta toss:
  • 8 ounces fettuccine (or pasta of your choice – feel free to sub in whole grain or gluten free)
  • ¾ cup corn kernels (in addition to the corn that is in the sauce recipe above)
  • 2 cups uncooked arugula or spinach
  • ½ cup (or more) of reserved pasta water
  • ½ – ¾ cup sweet corn cream sauce, from above (as much or little as you like)
  • ¼ cup basil, chopped or torn
  • Juice of ½ lemon, to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Make the sweet corn cream: In a high speed blender (we used a Vitamix), puree the almonds, corn, water, olive oil, garlic, onion, lemon, 1 tablespoon agave, and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust. If you want it more sweet, add more agave. If you want it more tart, add more lemon, or if more rich, add more olive oil. And, of course, add salt to taste.**
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse, reserving at least ½ cup pasta water.
  3. In a large bowl*** place the loose corn kernels and arugula. Scoop cooked pasta noodles on top along with some of the reserved starchy pasta water. Spoon in the almond cream, a little at a time, along with more pasta water, tossing as you go to wilt the arugula and thin out the cream sauce. Continue, adding more sauce, salt, pepper, the basil, another few squeezes of lemon, and the red pepper flakes, if using. Taste as you go. Use as much or little of the cream sauce as you like. This can be a very light dish, or a more rich one depending on what you’re in the mood for.
*To blanch the almonds, drop in boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove and transfer to a bowl of water filled with ice. Skins should slide right off.
**The corn flavor will intensify if you let the sauce sit for a bit. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. This can be made up to 2 days in advance.
***If you made the sauce ahead of time and it is cold from the refrigerator, you might want to mix everything together in a large skillet with a little bit of olive oil over low heat instead of a bowl so that your final dish is hot and not lukewarm.



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. emma

    this was great! don’t have a vitamix, so it was pretty grainy, but the taste was really wonderful! full disclaimer – i don’t really follow recipes, so i changed a lot, but i could tell that this is a keeper!

  2. Courtney

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was really great. I had to use cashews instead of almonds but it was still yummy! I’m new to your blog (discovered it after one of my facebook friends commented on your recipes). I’m so excited to have found your site since my vegan diet has been reduced to smoothies, plain steamed veggies, and hummus. Ugh! You’ve inspired me!

  3. eva @VegucatingMyKids

    i made this lovely dish this evening!…what a nice change for my family in vegan sauces…i’ve been cooking vegan for about 2 years now, and i love the lifestyle, but find that many recipes asking for a creamy sauce, taste the same…this one had a life of it’s own….i had my doubts about the arugula–i am just not a fan, but know it’s so good for me–but the sweet corn sauce tempers the peppery flavor of the arugula–somehow…it worked for me and my family!…i did not use skinless almonds, i just soaked the ones i had over night–i think it’s what added to the grainy texture of the sauce, which, btw, i did not notice once the sauce was on the pasta….so almonds with skins can work, if someone is looking to skip a step or two….also, i did not use agave–it seemed the corn was sweet enough, but i did enjoy the taste the lemon gave to the sauce…this recipe is a keeper for sure! nice way to get in my arugula quota ; )
    thank you for the lovely recipe~

    • jeanine

      I’m glad you like this and that I could convert you to arugula! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Ruby from thatssovegan.blogspot.com

    Being from Minnesota I completely understand the whole Midwest corn thing. It’s really not the same anywhere else! Also, this pasta looks so delicious- I could definitely see it becoming a summer staple around my house!

  5. marla from familyfreshcooking.com

    Such a beautiful summer pasta!

  6. Sonja from acouplecooks.com

    Oh, I love this idea! We’re big corn lovers here in the Midwest too 🙂 We’ve never tried it in pasta though, and are always looking for ways to have less rich sauces. Great idea!

  7. Kate from kateinthekitchen.com

    I love this idea; I’ve made a creamless alfredo sauce from pureed cauliflower that was acceptable, but this seems like the perfect means to deal with the abundance of corn right now. Being a born and raised Minnesotan, fresh corn, bought from a truck on the side of the road next to the cornfield is a regular occurrence. We generally consider it a birthright. And that juicy freshness lasts only a brief while. I always hope by the time the season is done that I’m fed up and full of fresh sweet corn. This recipe will help that along.

  8. Meg from beardandbonnet.wordpress.com

    This is making my mouth water!!! Yum! I will be picking up fresh corn at the farmers market this week for sure.

  9. Kathryn from londonbakes.com

    I think a dish like these needs that aragula as a perfect complement to the creaminess of the sauce. This sounds like summer on a plate.

  10. YUM! I am a total pasta-aholic! That sauce sounds so amazing and like nothing I have ever tried before. Once the corn is in season here, I am most definitely coming back to this recipe.

  11. Heather from sundaymorningbananapancakes.blogspots.com

    gosh, here in New England Sweet Corn is eagerly awaited for come August/July – there is nothing better then fresh corn, the kind that needs no cooking, so sweet and tender you can eat it straight up!

    I Love tossing arugula into everything – it brightens up any dish that simply needs a little “greeness”, your dish looks absolutely simple and grogeou, I love how you added the almonds for a bit of creaminess – perfection!

  12. yummmm love corn in pasta, usually I do summer squash and corn, basil. noms 🙂

  13. wendy from delightfulcrab.com

    this looks totally delicious and the pictures are incredible – i love the colors. hi-5!

  14. Kankana from sunshineandsmile.com

    I always enjoy pasta tossed in light sauce like this one.

  15. Kelly from snailsview.com

    This looks amazing! We were just in Michigan for the 4th and had the best corn up there! Too bad you didn’t post this wonderful recipe last week 🙂
    I’ll be trying it this summer! Oh, how I dream of getting a Vtamix.

  16. Oh, this looks fantastic! What a great way to fresh corn. I cannot wait to try this recipe out 🙂

  17. You are so right about Midwestern corn. Around late July/early August I dream of driving back to Ohio for one of those meals that consists only of fresh sweet corn, home-grown tomatoes, and peaches from Grandpa’s tree.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.