This recipe epitomizes summer comfort food. With two cups of fresh corn kernels, creamy, salty feta (Bulgarian or French, if we're getting very specific), and the mix of basil and red pepper flakes, this mac and cheese is rich, cozy, and devastatingly easy to make.
Basil, corn, and red pepper flakes are three flavors I try to pair together as often as possible during the summer. It's the push and pull between the heat of red pepper flakes and basil with the sweet, starchy corn that I can't resist. Heavy cream plus the starch of the corn help thicken the rich sauce, which coats the pasta shells. This mac and cheese is incredible served warm, but sometimes I like it cold when the weather is too hot to bear.
Creamy Corn Mac and Cheese
medium-sized dry pasta shells
torn fresh basil leaves, divided
freshly crumbled feta cheese (preferably French or Bulgarian), divided
Red pepper flakes
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta; set aside.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water, pasta shells, cream, and half of the basil and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in half of the feta and mix until creamy and the shells are coated, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
Remove from the heat and season with salt. Top with remaining feta, basil, and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.
Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Add a splash of cream when reheating.