Corn, Bacon, and Pasta: A Love Story

Chef Alex Saggiomo always cooks for a crowd, even when it’s just two people at the table. Here’s his recipe for a celebratory summer corn pasta that’s light and indulgent at the same time.

summery corn carbonara
Summery, light, and lovely

There are few things that make me as happy as cooking for someone, and when that someone is my fiancé, AND it’s his birthday…well, it’s time to pull out all the stops. Normally, when planning a grand feast to prepare for someone I love, I start dreaming of rich braises and lavish desserts, but a few years ago a simple request stopped me in my tracks; “do you think you can make something healthy?”

Healthy? For your birthday?! I guess we love our partners in spite of their flaws. The gauntlet had been thrown, and I was ready to accept. 

Instead of turning to classic “health foods,” I looked to dishes that I knew he loved, and tried to find ways to lighten them up. He’s an unyielding pasta fan, I knew that would be a good place to start. A stroll around the farmers market led me to a bounty of fresh corn, and inspiration hit: borrow the structure of pasta carbonara, but add richness with corn to keep it light. I gathered the rest of my goods and ran back to the kitchen, ready to get to work.

The pasta turned out exactly as I’d hoped: rich and pork-spiked like a carbonara, but bright and herbaceous like a new dish in its own right. A shower of fresh herbs and lemon zest helped it pop, and judging by the look on my fiancé’s face, it was a hit. Since then, this dish has become a birthday tradition, but as easy as it is, you’ll find yourself whipping it up in no time for a weeknight dinner. 

Summer Corn and Bacon Pasta Recipe

Serves: 4

  • 1 Lb spaghetti
  • 6-7 Ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 Tbsps butter, unsalted
  • 4 Oz pancetta or bacon, small diced
  • 2 Shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 Garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 Lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsps tarragon, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 3 Tbsps basil, plus more for garnish
  1. Place a kitchen towel on a cutting board; stand the corn on its flat side, and cut the corn kernels off the cob (the towel will keep all the kernels from flying about, and make them easier to transport). Transfer the corn kernels to a blender; puree until smooth. 
corn carbonara
Use a towel for easy kernel removal
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water, and drain the pasta.
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and the fat has rendered (6 to 7 minutes). Add the shallots and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned and softened. Add the cooked spaghetti, corn puree, half of the pasta cooking water, and the lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is coated and the sauce has thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of the tarragon, and 2 tablespoons of the basil (tear just before adding). Divide the pasta between 4 bowls and garnish with the remaining herbs. 

Greenmarket Inspo: BLT Salad with Grilled Romaine & Bacon Fat Croutons

Every week, our test kitchen team pays an early morning visit to New York City’s biggest farmers market: the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Comprised of over 70 stalls bursting with flowers, local products, and beautiful seasonal produce, it’s the perfect place for a hit of mid-week inspiration. Follow us on Instagram to tag along (bring a tote bag, it’s impossible to leave empty handed!) and see what we decide to make with our market haul.

We understand how this looks. Of all of the bright and juicy late summer produce to choose from at the greenmarket, we went with bacon? But hear us out: thicker cut and with a serious layer of fat, farmers’ market bacon cooks up to the platonic ideal of the breakfast food, both melt-in-your-mouth crispy and meatily chewy at once. It definitely costs more than your average supermarket brand, making it an “every once and a while” treat, but when you are looking to splurge, it’s a worthwhile way to spend your market cash — and certainly warrants being the centerpiece of a dish.

This recipe uses bacon two ways: first, crisped in the oven and crumbled to scatter over the salad, and second (and this is where the extra fat from the farmers’ market variety comes in handy), to bake up a batch of golden brown croutons. Cooking bacon on a wire rack set on a rimmed sheet pan means the bacon stays crispy while the rendered fat drips down below. We toss torn pieces of crusty bread (and a grated garlic clove, for bite) in that reserved fat to evenly coat each piece before tossing the pan back into the oven. The result is a crisp and crunchy crouton with a subtle salty, savory flavor, ready to soak up any juices from the bursting September tomatoes we tossed over the salad (see, we managed to get some seasonal produce in there!).

BLT Salad with Grilled Romaine & Bacon Fat Croutons


Serves 4
Special equipment: grill or grill pan, wire rack


2 heads romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise through the core
8 slices bacon
½ pint (about 1 cup) cherry tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp buttermilk
2 tbsp mayonnaise
3 oz blue cheese, divided
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch chives, thinly sliced
3-4 slices crusty bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil


1. Roast the bacon:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 450°F. Fit a wire rack into a rimmed sheet pan. Place the bacon slices on the prepared sheet pan. Roast 14 to 16 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Leaving the oven on, remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon into small pieces. Remove the wire rack from the sheet pan, reserving the bacon fat in the pan.

2. Toast the croutons:

To the pan of reserved bacon fat, add the torn bread and garlic paste; season with salt and pepper (add a drizzle of olive oil if the pan seems dry). Toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer. Toast in the oven 6 to 8 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven.

3. Grill the lettuce:

While the croutons toast, heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat; lightly oil the grates. Drizzle the cut side of the halved heads of lettuce with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, cut side down, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly charred. Transfer to a plate.

4. Make the dressing:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, 2 oz blue cheese, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Assemble the salad & serve your dish:

Spoon half the dressing onto a platter; spread into an even layer. Place the grilled lettuce on the dressing, grilled side up. Top with half the tomatoes, half the crumbled bacon, and half the croutons. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Garnish with the remaining tomatoes, remaining crumbled bacon, remaining croutons, remaining blue cheese (crumbling before adding), and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Home Chef: Bakin’ Bacon

How to Make Bacon in the Oven

Every month, Lori Yates from Foxes Love Lemons takes a lesson she learned in culinary school, while working with some of the country’s best chefs, and brings it into the home kitchen, where her tips will help make you a faster, better, and more confident cook. Welcome to her column, Home Chef. Today, we’re talking about the side dish you know you need to make every time you scramble an egg

I’m going to share a little trick that I’m guessing 80 percent of people who like bacon already know. However, before I went to culinary school, I was in the 20 percent of people who had never thought to do this. Granted, for a long time, I wasn’t a big fan of bacon. And I think two major reasons for that were how smelly it makes your house when you cook it, and how big of a mess it is (grease splatters everywhere!).

With this method, your house will still smell bacon-y, but maybe a smidge less so than with the old frying pan method. Much of the smell stays inside your oven. And those grease splatters? Hey – better in the oven than on the counter. My oven has seen way worse.

Ok, so here we go. Let’s get started bakin’ bacon. This will only take a minute. Well, 18 minutes…

How to Make Bacon in the Oven

Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Please make sure the pan is rimmed, or you’re going to have a huge bacon grease mess on your hands. Lay your bacon out on this pan in a single layer. If you need two pans, use two pans. They can be a little closer than I’ve done here, but just make sure the bacon pieces aren’t overlapping or anything.

Bake your bacon at 375° for 18 to 20 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of crispness. You don’t even need to flip it. Just let it do it’s thing for 18 minutes. When it’s done, use tongs to transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.

How to Make Bacon in the Oven

Beyond the less mess/smelliness factor, there are a few other advantages to this method. First, it’s a great method to use when you’re preparing breakfast for a crowd. The bacon is just cooking away in the oven, unattended to, while you’re finishing up the rest of the meal on the stovetop. Second, you get to eat almost cartoon-like perfect bacon. It’s not shriveled up little pieces – it’s mostly flat, perfectly cooked bacon. Beautiful, beautiful, cartoon bacon.

How to Make Bacon in the Oven