corn penne with tempeh in black pepper sauce

by Heguiberto on February 13, 2012

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I’m really excited about this dish because the pasta I’m using is made of corn! Can you believe it?!?

corn penne with tempeh in black pepper sauce

corn penne with tempeh in black pepper sauce

While I’m a huge fan of corn, I was just skeptical about it as pasta. Is it even possible to make good pasta with grains other than wheat? Okay, that’s a little dramatic as I’ve had wonderful Chinese noodles made of either rice flour or various kinds of bean. But we’re talking Italian here. Would corn produce something with similar texture and flavors to the “regular” semolina pasta that we’re all used to? I just couldn’t fathom the idea.

I had always thought using corn to make plastic was the final frontier for this New World grain, but after this marvelous corn penne, all I can say is that the Italians have taken this humble grain to a new dimension. So next time you spot corn pasta at your supermarket, don’t be afraid. Just go for it. You’ll be doing yourselves a huge favor.

To add a bit more excitement and protein to the dish, I used tempeh to it make it my favorite East meets West sort of dish.

key ingredients for corn penne with tempeh in black pepper sauce

key ingredients for corn penne with tempeh in black pepper sauce

Oh, yes, and for a health note: if you happen to have a friend who’s allergic to gluten (i.e. someone with celiac disease) this would be an excellent way to treat them right for a memorable dinner.

corn penne with tempeh in black pepper sauce

9 oz corn penne rigate cooked al dente per package instructions
1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp good quality arbequina extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely grated Grana Padano cheese (or more!)
8oz piece garden veggie tempeh, cubed
1 tbsp canola oil
Kosher salt

Place canola oil in a non-stick skillet, add tempeh, bring temperature to high and cook tempeh on various sides until golden yellow. Remove from pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Wipe remaining canola oil off the pan. Next add 3 tbsp olive oil, pepper and cook in low temperature for about a minute or so. Let oil get infused with the black pepper deliciousness. Add garlic, salt and cook for another minute or so without burning it. Toss in pasta and give it a good stir to coat. Transfer to a warm serving bowl, sprinkle ½ of the cheese over and delicately mix it in. Fold in tempeh. Garnish with the rest of the cheese and serve with a good red Tuscan or perhaps a Côtes du Rhône.

Have some extra cheese and olive oil on the table in case you or your guests want to splurge like I always do.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one } February 13, 2012 at 5:23 am

Unique and healthy pasta =) this one is on my list tonight=) recently posted..Come Over To The Dark Side Towering Chocolate Mousse PieMy Profile

Alaiyo Kiasi February 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I’ve tried corn pasta before as spaghetti. I haven’t tried corn penne before, but your dish looks so tasty, that I must save this recipe for a definite try! I think the addition of tempeh provides texture as well as another level of flavor (love tempeh)! Good one!
Alaiyo Kiasi recently posted..Roasted Pears with Cherries, Walnuts and Mascarpone CreamMy Profile

Krista February 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I’ve never had corn pasta before, but the color alone is so cheering I have to try it. 🙂
Krista recently posted..An Italian Feast in Black and White: Casa Scaparone, ItalyMy Profile

Devaki @ weavethousandflavors February 14, 2012 at 7:37 am

This just sounds just too bloody delish for words! Corn pasta you say? I say bring it on! The color and texture is so appealing and very very clever of you to mix it with tempeh.

You know I have been dying to have this savory spicy singaporean dish with ikan bilis (dried anchovies), peanuts and tempeh and after seeing the tempeh ehre, I think I’m going to bite the bullet and go get me some tempeh this weekend!

So what fun things have you and Stevie planned for tonite?

chow 🙂 Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
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Magic of Spice February 17, 2012 at 8:24 am

I would eat this for breakfast…looks so good! And corn pasta?! I must find this and give it a try, I am sure they have it at my local organics market or WF…fun 🙂
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Kathryn February 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Since my family is gluten free we have tried and love corn pasta. This looks like another wonderful new dish to try. =D
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Helen February 21, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Sounds very creative and the pasta is just attractive. I honestly haven’t tried adding corn to my pasta. I will follow your suggestion and let me family enjoy the meal.
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donna February 24, 2012 at 12:12 am

Your food and photos are inspiring. I found you on a search for fiddlehead ferns. I absolutely love your blog.

Heguiberto February 24, 2012 at 7:47 am

Thanks for finding us and your kind words. It’s been fun doing this blog. It’s great to hear back from our viewers! Please do come back.

donna February 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm

You bet I will, I posted your corn pasta recipe on twitter and facebook and now I have tons of people wanting to come over and have me cook it for them, ah, the problems of posting beautiful recipes,….

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