This Summer Pasta Salad highlights the best of summer veggies! Zucchini, corn, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes are tossed with noodles in a flavorful cilantro pesto. Vegan and Gluten-free. Video.

Summer pasta salad in a bowl with corn, zucchini, tomatoes and cilantro pesto.

Life goes on. It always does.

Dave Stone

This Summer Pasta Salad is crave-worthy! Zucchini, corn, and peppers are grilled (or roasted) and tossed with noodles and a punchy cilantro pesto enhanced with lime juice and jalapeño. Keep it vegan, or sprinkle it with crumbled cotija if you like!

Like most pasta dishes you’ll find here, this corn and zucchini pasta salad is mostly all about the veggies – a healthy pasta salad recipe perfect for outdoor gatherings and potlucks or make it ahead for midweek lunches.

Summer Pasta Salad Video

Why You’ll Love This!

  1. Perfectly Light and Refreshing! Bursting with veggies and made with optional gluten-free rice noodles, keeping it light.
  2. Bursting with Flavor! Vibrant and flavorful with Cilantro Pesto.
  3. Versatile and Easy to Prepare! Adapt to your taste. Add spice, grilled shrimp, chicken, or tofu.

Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Noodles: rice noodles or pasta ( linguini, fusilli, rotini, farfalle, or any pasta shape, cooked to al dente).
  • Veggies and herbs: Feel free to add any grillable vegetable you like or have on hand. I’ll often pick up what is available at our local farmers’ market—here, we’re using zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, fresh corn on the cobb, cherry tomatoes, fresh cilantro leaves, garlic, and jalapeño.
  • Seasonings: salt, black pepper, coriander, smoked paprika, lime juice and lime zest.
  • Extra virgin Olive oil: for healthy richness.
  • Pumpkin seeds: to give the pesto nutty flavor and a bit of texture.
  • Garnish with lime wedges, pepitas, cilantro leaves and optional cotija cheese crumbles.

How to make Summer Pasta Salad

Step One: Cook the noodles. Pour boiling water over the rice noodles, let stand for 3 minutes until tender and al dente, then drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Soak the rice noodles with boiling water.

Step Two: Make the cilantro pesto. Place ingredeints in a food processor and pulse! Set this aside.

Making the cilantro pesto in a food processor.

Step Three: Grill the veggies. Lightly oil the veggies and season with salt and pepper, and grill over medium heat. *Alternatively you could cut the veggies into small pieces and either roast in the oven or saute them- though grilling gives the best flavor.

grilling vegetables for the pasta salad.

Step Four: Combine! Cut up the grilled veggies and place in a large bowl with the noodles and cilantro pesto and toss well!

assembling the pasta salad.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the summer pasta salad on a platter or in a bowl, and top with halved cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with more pepitas and cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges. A delicious side dish alongside Mexican-inspired mains.


This pasta salad will last up to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Chefs Tips

  • Grilling really elevates the veggies!
  • Cook the rice noodles to al dente so they don’t fall when tossed.
  • The cilantro pesto can be made ahead, but bring to room temp before tossing.
  • Not a fan of cilantro? Make Basil Pesto instead!
  • Add shrimp, chipotle chicken, or grilled tofu and serve as a main course.
Summer Pasta Salad being lifted out of a bowl.

More Favorite Pasta Salads

Pasta salad with corn and zucchini in and cilantro pesto in a bowl.

On the home front. This is the first 4th of July in a long time, we didn’t have Dave’s BBQ Chicken. We are in the process of saying goodbye to Brian’s stepdad, Dave, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 9 months ago.

As his body dwindles away, his eyes have become bright and clear with a beautiful and arresting presence. He’s going into this last phase of his life with eyes wide open. I can’t fathom the courage it must take to face your own end.

It’s heart-wrenching to witness, yet incredibly poignant and beautiful. Today, as we commiserated about the inevitable finality of it all, he simply said, “Life goes on. It always does.”


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Summer Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Corn and Cilantro Pesto in a bowl,

Summer Pasta Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 25 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 35
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: salad, summer, pasta
  • Method: grilled
  • Cuisine: mexican
  • Diet: Vegan


This Summer Pasta Salad highlights the best of summer veggies- grilled zucchini, corn, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes tossed in a flavorful cilantro pesto. Vegan and Gluten-free. Video.


Units Scale
  • 6 ounces rice noodles (or sub pasta of any shape- linguini, penne, farfalle, rotini, etc, cooked to package directions)
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in half, seeded
  • 1/2 a red onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 12 ears of fresh corn ( or use frozen, roasted corn ), shucked
  • olive oil, salt and black pepper for veggies
  • Garnish with cherry tomatoes, lime wedges, pepitas, cilantro leaves, or optional cotija cheese.

 Cilantro Pesto:

  • 1 large bunch cilantro (thin stems ok), or sub basil.
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 12 tablespoons chopped jalapeno (optional)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil – make sure it is not overly bitter
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (raw)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional- only if you like the smoky flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


  1. Cook the noodles. Pour boiling water over the rice noodles, ( I put them in a baking dish) let stand for 3 minutes until al dente,  then drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. If using pasta, cook to al dente. 
  2. Make the Cilantro Pesto. Place the cilantro, garlic and jalapeño in food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely chopped. Add the olive oil, pumpkin seeds, coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and pulse until combined but not too smooth. You should have a fairly loose (runny) pesto -perfect for tossing the salad. Taste, adjust lime to taste. If bitter, add a little sugar. You can do this ahead and refrigerate. 
  3. Preheat the Grill to medium-high.
  4. Prep the veggies – brush or spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the veggies on the grill, lower heat to medium, cover,  checking the veggies every few minutes or so….turning to char. Once the veggies are done, cut into bite-sized cubes.
  5. Assemble. Give the pasta a final cool water rinse, loosening it up. Drain and place in a bowl. Add the Cilantro Pesto and the veggies and an additional ½ teaspoon salt, and possibly more to taste. Adjust lime, salt and heat according to your taste preference. I’ll sometimes add a pinch of chipotle pepper, or chili flakes, or even more finely chopped jalapeño to bump up the heat.
  6. Serve: Place on a serving platter or in a bowl, top with halved cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with more pepitas and cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges. Sprinkle with cotija if you like! 


To make it a meal, top it with grilled halloumi cheese, grilled tofu, shrimp, or grilled chicken. 

Oven Version: To roast the veggies instead of using a grill, cut zucchini, bell pepper and onion into bite-sized pieces, toss with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast in a 400F oven for 20-ish minutes, stirring halfway through.  You can roast fresh corn as well, cut it off the cob, and add it to the mix. 


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 318
  • Sugar: 4.1 g
  • Sodium: 202.6 mg
  • Fat: 23 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.8 g
  • Fiber: 2.4 g
  • Protein: 3.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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  1. This was so delicious! I couldn’t find pepitas so used pine nuts instead and it turned out great. Thanks for a fabulous summer meal that doesn’t heat up the house!

  2. This was delicious! I did have to add about 1/4 tsp of sugar to the pesto. My rice noodles took like 12 mins to be ready but they were brown rice so maybe that’s why. I charred some cherry tomatoes to throw in and did the halloumi. It was a hit. My husb said to add it to his favorites list lol!

  3. This looks so good. I went to Trader Joe’s to buy supplies but they didn’t have raw pepitas. Do you think raw walnuts or almonds would work well?

  4. I will make this for myself, with cilantro pesto (I love cilantro), but do you think I could switch the cilantro for basil as my family, who won’t eat cilantro?

    1. Hi Sue, I would make all the components except the rice noodles- make those just before serving and toss together. If you want to use a regular pasta noodle you could do it all before.

  5. Hummm, shoot. Could it have been your olive oil? Perhaps give it a taste? You could try adding a little sweetener to help mitigate this. Also, sometimes this bitterness will lessen over time.

  6. This turned out so fresh and perfect for a hot summer day. I subscribe to Milkstreet, but like your recipes even better. I have not come across anything I didn’t like, and I tried a lot. Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  7. I’m trying to think of a vegetarian protein to add to this to make in an entree salad. Would grilled halloumi work? Maybe firm tofu, grilled? I haven’t done much with tofu in general. Your opinion? I like the idea of grilled halloumi better, but would love your opinion on protein additions.

    1. I love the idea of grilled halloumi (or pan seared halloumi!). Crispy Tofu would work too- but the halloumi would add such yummy buttery flavor. 🙂

          1. In follow-up, I just wanted to report in that the halloumi was fantastic with the salad. I might suggest that you include it as an add-on alternative. Since we had the grill going already we just grilled it along with the veggies.

  8. Great flavors! So fresh and bright! Grilled the veggies and chicken last night for a different meal and did the rest tonight, which made it really easy. Love!

  9. Thanks for this delicious, fresh summer recipe! Do you think it would work to make the cilantro pesto ahead of time (like earlier the same day)?

  10. This recipe looks so good! I love the idea of cilantro pesto and was wondering if you think it would freeze well? Thank you Sylvia.

    1. Hi Patty- my only hesitation is that it might discolor. Freeze in a jar (leave an inch of headroom) with a layer of lemon juice or olive oil that you would scrape off before using.

  11. My wife asked me this morning what I would like for dinner tonight. I told her something light and summery. I found this recipe online. We made it together. It was fun and delicious. Plenty of goodness leftover for lunch tomorrow. Thank you for sharing. We will make this again.

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