This Summer Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Corn is tossed in a flavorful Cilantro Pesto and made with rice noodles– keeping it light, vegan and gluten-free- so deliciously addicting!
Life goes on. It always does. ~Dave Stone
Every summer without fail, right around the 4th of July, I start craving this summer pasta salad. Grilled zucchini, corn and peppers are tossed with rice noodles and a very flavorful vegan Cilantro Pesto that’s doctored up with a lime juice and jalapeño. You can always serve crumbled queso on the side. And if you like smoky flavors, a pinch of ground chipotle or smoked paprika is a nice addition. And 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.
On the home front… gosh, life. This is first 4th of July in a long time, we didn’t have Dave’s BBQ Chicken. We are in the process of saying good-bye to Brian’s step-dad, Dave, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 9 months ago. As his body dwindles away, his eyes have become bright and clear with a presence that is both beautiful and arresting. 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 at the same time, incredibly poignant and beautiful. Today, as we commiserate about the inevitable finality with him, he simply says, “Life goes on. It always does.”
When making this Summer Pasta Salad, feel free to add any grill-able veggie you like or have on hand. I’ll often pick up what is available at our local farmers market. I really like the combo of zucchini, corn and peppers but there veggies like eggplant, asparagus or grilled green beans would work too.
While the veggies are grilling make the flavorful Cilantro Pesto Sauce.
This version of Cilantro Pesto has pepitas, lime and jalapeño……so tasty!
In this recipe I use rice noodles, which keeps this summer pasta salad, light and totally gluten-free.
Once the veggies are grilled, toss with the rice noodles and the cilantro pesto.
Feel free to make this Summer Pasta Salad ahead, and serve at gatherings and potlucks, or make it part of your meal prep for midweek meals.
You can easily add grilled shrimp, chicken or fish to this, to turn it into more of a main course. Keep it vegan by adding black beans or this Mexican-style Baked Tofu.
Fresh cherry tomatoes give it a delicious summer freshness….so add those at the end.
So easy, and full of summer flavor!
Anyway you choose to serve it, I hope you love this Summer Pasta Salad as much as I do!
Summer Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Corn and Cilantro Pesto
Summer Pasta Salad w/ Grilled Zucchini, Corn and Cilantro Pesto is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with healthy summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto…. deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free!
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- Category: pasta salad, vegan , summer recipes, gluten-free
- Method: grilled
- Cuisine: mexican
- 6 ounces rice noodles
- 2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper, cut in half, seeded
- ½ an onion, cut into ½ inch wedges
- 1–2 ears of fresh corn ( or use frozen, roasted corn ), shucked
- oil, salt and pepper for veggies
- Garnish with cherry tomatoes, lime wedges, pepitas, cilantro leaves
Vegan Cilantro Pesto:
- 1 large bunch cilantro and thin stems
- 2 fat garlic cloves
- 1–2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno ( optional)
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds ( raw)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon coriander ( optional)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional- only if you like smoky flavor)
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
Preheat the grill to medium high, and boil water for the rice noodles.
Prep the veggies – brush or spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Pour boiling water over the rice noodles, ( I put them in a baking dish) let stand for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Place the veggies on the grill, lower heat to medium, cover, then make the cilantro pesto. Check the veggies every 5 minutes or so….turning.
Place all the cilantro, garlic and jalapeño in food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients, pulse until combined but not too smooth. You should have a fairly loose (runny) pesto -perfect for tossing the salad.
Once the veggies are done, cut into bite-sized pieces. 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.
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.
Feel free to add crumbled cheese- queso fresco is nice. Top with grilled shrimp, fish or chicken.
Keywords: summer pasta salad, pasta salad recipes healthy, vegan pasta salad, corn pasta, zucchini pasta, healthy pasta salad recipes