Corn and Basil Cacio e Pepe


This is basically a turnt up version of cacio e pepe made even more delicious with the addition of garlic, anchovies, corn and basil. If you can’t find in season corn, frozen corn is a great alternative--just use about 2 cups frozen and add them as you would the fresh.

Active Time: 45 Mins

Total Time: 45 mins

Corn and Basil Cacio e Pepe


  • 4 ears corn
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1 lemon


  • 1 pound spaghetti, bucatini or pappardelle
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 8 oil packed anchovies
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper flake
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper


  • 3 ounces pecorino or parmesan (or a mix of both)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Do some prep:

  • Shuck 4 ears of corn, cut off the kernels and transfer to a medium bowl.
  • Smash and peel 12 garlic cloves. Thinly slice the garlic
  • Pick 2 cups of basil leaves from their stems.

3. Start the sauce:

  • Heat ½ cup olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add the sliced garlic and 8 oil packed anchovies and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic just barely begins to turn lightly golden at the edges and the anchovies have frizzled away and dissipated, 1-2 minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn or it will turn bitter which, in this case, is not a welcome flavor.
  • Add the corn, ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes, lots and lots of black pepper, and a big pinch of salt. Cook over medium, stirring often, until it has turned bright in color and taken on some of the flavors of the garlic and anchovies, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

4. Drop the pasta:

  • Stir 1 pound spaghetti into the boiling water and give it a good stir to separate the strands.
  • Cook until al dente. Scoop out and reserve 1 ½ cups of pasta water before draining.

5. Finish:

  • Return the Dutch oven to medium heat. Add the spaghetti, and a big splash of pasta water to the pot and toss well to combine. Working a handful at a time, evenly sprinkle in 3 ounces pecorino and/or parmesan cheese, adding more pasta water as needed to thin the sauce out to a very saucy creamy consistency. Stir in two tablespoons butter, and the zest of half a lemon and the juice of the entire lemon.
  • Stir in the basil leaves, tearing any very-large leaves in half.
  • Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper as needed. Serve with more parm and a drizzle of olive oil.

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