Bell peppers are sautéed with fresh sweet corn and garlic in this gently spicy, salty, and sweet bell pepper pasta. This dish comes together in under 30 minutes and is a great way to use seasonal produce in the summer!
Unlike most bell pepper pasta recipes which have red bell peppers in the sauce, this recipe features bell peppers sautéed in a butter-based sauce with fresh sweet corn, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
It's gently spicy and peppery from the addition of red pepper flakes and black pepper. This is actually a triple pepper pasta, though red and orange peppers are the stars of the show!
As always, this pasta is quite versatile and you can really make this recipe your own.
- Flavors: The sweetness of peppers and corn is balanced out by heat from red pepper flakes. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar rounds out the dish by contributing a robust punch of acidity.
- Quick & easy: Bell pepper pasta is all about simplicity. The recipe comes together in under 30 minutes and uses inexpensive ingredients.
- Versatile: I love when readers make my recipes their own! I use long fusilli because I absolutely love the texture, but this recipe works with any type of pasta. Add your favorite protein to round out the dish, or try adding in even more summer vegetables like zucchini or cherry tomatoes.
- Bell peppers: For the backbone of this bell pepper pasta, I use one red and one orange pepper. Thinly slice (julienne) the peppers into strips. I don't recommend using green peppers as they have a very different flavor profile, but yellow peppers or other sweet peppers work.
- Sweet corn: Fresh from the cob! If sweet corn isn't in season, you can use canned corn or frozen corn for a slightly different result.
- Long fusilli: This is a long curly pasta shape. If you can't find fusilli, you can really get away with using any shape. Make sure to reserve at least ½ cup of pasta water from the boiled pasta, as it's used in the sauce.
- Olive oil and butter make up the sauce. I recommend using unsalted butter for more control over the saltiness of the dish.
- Red pepper flakes and black pepper: This pasta does err on the spicy side. Decrease red pepper flakes to just ¼ teaspoon or omit entirely if you don't want any spice.
- Basil: Both dry basil and fresh basil add sweet herbiness to the dish.
- Balsamic vinegar: This adds a touch of acidity and rounds out the dish.
- Feta: I prefer feta for this dish because it is very salty, which balances out the spicy and sweet flavors.
Step by step instructions
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Once hot, add the sliced peppers, red pepper flakes, dry basil, black pepper, and salt.
Cook until the peppers are softened and beginning to brown. Beware that the steam from the pan will be pretty spicy from the red pepper flakes!
I like to sauté bell peppers so that they still have a bit of crunch and texture, which takes only 6 to 8 minutes. Cook longer for softer peppers.
Add in the corn kernels from the ears of corn and the garlic. Sauté an additional 2 to 3 minutes to brown the corn and garlic.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add in the butter and ⅓ cup reserved pasta water to form the butter sauce.
Stir in the cooked pasta. Remove from the heat and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, feta, and freshly ground black pepper.
Tips and variations
- Make it vegan: Use an equal amount of plant butter and dairy-free feta. Follow Your Heart makes a delicious crumbled vegan feta.
- Gluten-free option: I am not aware of a gluten-free long fusilli, but any type of gluten-free pasta shape works here.
- Adjust the spice: The first time I tested this recipe I used 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, which made it a Spicy Pepper Pasta instead of just pepper pasta. My partner loved it, but I personally find ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes to be more than enough. Decrease to ¼ teaspoon for more subtle heat.
- Add protein: I like to round out this pasta with spicy sausage (Impossible makes a great one), but it's just as great on its own or with air-fried chickpeas.
Leftovers are best within 3 to 4 days. Let cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container and refrigerating.
Reheating: Pasta reheats well in the microwave in just about 2 minutes. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar or olive oil to loosen up the sauce, as needed.
Freezing: I have not tried freezing this recipe, but I think it would be best straight from the stove.
More weeknight favorites
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Bell Pepper Pasta with Sweet Corn
- 8 ounces long fusilli (any pasta shape works) reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large orange bell pepper sliced into thin strips
- 1 large red bell pepper sliced into thin strips
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes see note #1
- ½ teaspoon dry basil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ears corn kernels removed
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar adjust to taste
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- ¼ cup fresh chopped basil
- Cook the fusilli in a pot of well-salted water until al dente. Reserve at least ½ cup of pasta water before draining. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Once hot, add the sliced peppers, red pepper flakes, dry basil, black pepper, and salt. Sauté until the peppers are softened and beginning to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add in the corn kernels and the garlic. Sauté an additional 2 to 3 minutes to brown the corn and garlic.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add in the butter and whisk in ⅓ cup reserved pasta water to form the butter sauce. Add additional pasta water to thin the sauce, as needed.
- Stir in the cooked pasta. Remove from the heat and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, feta, and fresh basil.
- Red pepper flakes make the pasta gently spicy. Decrease to ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes for more subtle heat.
- Leftovers are best within 3 to 4 days. Let cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container and refrigerating.
- Reheating: Pasta reheats well in the microwave in just about 2 minutes. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar or olive oil to loosen up the sauce, if needed.
- Add protein: I like to round out this pasta with sauteed spicy sausage (Impossible makes a great one), but it's just as great on its own or with air-fried chickpeas.