Mexican Macaroni and Grilled Corn

Textures and tastes abound in this fresh pesto pasta dish mixed with grilled corn and topped with a salsa of tomatoes, onion and jalapeños.


  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain penne
  • 3 large ears sweet corn
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for brushing
  • 3 tablespoons natural pistachios or sliced almonds
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • A couple small handfuls grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 3 jalapeño chili peppers, seeded for milder heat, then 2 coarsely chopped and 1 finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
  • 1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 3/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (about 1 generous handful)
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped


Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.

While the pasta is working, pre-heat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium. Husk, rinse and dry the corn. Brush with EVOO to coat; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, to brown the kernels at the edges, about 20 minutes. Using a sharp knife, scrape the kernels off the cobs into a bowl.

Meanwhile, in a dry skillet, toast the nuts and pumpkin seed until fragrant. Transfer to a food processor to cool. Add the cheese, coarsely chopped jalapeños, garlic, basil, cilantro, mint, oregano, lime juice, salt and pepper. Process the pesto, streaming in 1/3 cup EVOO.

In a medium size bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion and finely chopped jalapeño; season with salt.

In a large serving bowl, combine the pesto with the reserved pasta water. Add the pasta and corn; toss for a minute to combine. Serve in shallow bowls, topped with the tomato salsa.

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