Over the years, we’ve made this pasta with shrimp, with bacon, and with both shrimp and bacon, and, when the tomatoes and corn are at peak sweetness, it practically shouts summer. Which is to say, it’s easy, fresh, and hits notes that you can get only a few weeks a year. I worried about making an entirely plant-based version of it, but then I learned a trick from Bon Appétit’s Chris Morocco: If you caramelize red onions at a low heat (for about as long as it takes to boil water and then cook the pasta), they take on a richness that rivals bacon. Add that to late August corn and tomatoes, and you’ve got a surefire crowd-pleaser.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a separate large pot or Dutch oven set over medium-low heat, combine the onion and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir every few minutes.
- Cook the tagliatelle in the boiling water according to the package directions. When the pasta is just about done, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and toss it right in the strainer with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to prevent sticking. Add the butter to the red onion, which should be caramelly and slightly shriveled by this point, along with the garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute.
- Add the corn and tomatoes and cook until the vegetables release a lot of liquid, another 4 to 5 minutes. It should look like a bright, chunky sauce.
- Add the pasta and Parmesan to the vegetables, tossing to distribute and coat the pasta with the sauce. Add a drizzle of pasta water as needed to help the cheese distribute evenly. Top with basil and serve.