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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! Video.
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 flavorful vegan Cilantro Pesto that’s doctored with 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 or make it ahead for midweek lunches.
Summer Pasta Salad Video
What you’ll need in Summer Pasta Salad
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 other 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 keep 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! I hope you love this Summer Pasta Salad as much as I do!
More recipes you may enjoy
- Cooling Recipes for Hot Summer Days
- 35 Easy Delicious Potluck Ideas
- Our best 35 Grilling Recipes for Summer
- Farmers Market Pasta Salad
- Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Zucchini Pasta
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 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 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 at the same time, incredibly poignant and beautiful. Today, as we commiserated about the inevitable finality of it all, he simply said, “Life goes on. It always does.”
Take care and have a nice weekend.
Summer Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Corn and Cilantro Pesto
- Prep Time: 35
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- Category: pasta salad, vegan , summer recipes, gluten-free
- Method: grilled
- Cuisine: mexican
- Diet: Vegan
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!
- 6 ounces rice noodles
- 2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper, cut in half, seeded
- 1/2 an onion, cut into 1/2 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)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds ( raw)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander ( optional)
- 1/2 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.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 382
- Sugar: 4.9 g
- Sodium: 243.1 mg
- Fat: 27.6 g
- Saturated Fat: 4.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 32.2 g
- Fiber: 2.9 g
- Protein: 4.4 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: summer pasta salad, pasta salad recipes healthy, vegan pasta salad, corn pasta, zucchini pasta, healthy pasta salad recipes
Delicious, super simple to make and easily adaptable. The umami suggestions really elevated the flavor.
Awesome Ana! thanks so much!
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!
Thanks so much Lauren- glad you liked it!
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)?
Yes Rochelle- up to a couple days before. 😉
This was so delicious. Just loved the grilled vegetables in it.
Great to hear!
Hi, I love your recipes! My question about this one is, is it served warm or cold?
I like it either way- or room temp!
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.
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.
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.
Perfect! So happy you enjoyed.