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.

This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

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

 Summer Pasta Salad Ingredients

When making this Summer Pasta Salad, feel free to add any grillable veggie you like or have on hand. I’ll often pick up what is available at our local farmers’ market; zucchini, corn, and peppers but other veggies like eggplant, asparagus or grilled green beans would work too.

To make this more of a meal- try adding grilled halloumi, or grilled shrimp or grilled tofu!

This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

While the veggies are grilling make the flavorful Cilantro Pesto Sauce.

This version of Cilantro Pesto has pepitas, lime and jalapeño……so tasty!

Cilantro pesto

In this recipe, I use rice noodles, which keep this summer pasta salad light and totally gluten-free. Feel free to swap these out for what you have on hand.

This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

Once the veggies are grilled, toss with the noodles and the cilantro pesto.

This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

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.

This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

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.

This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

Fresh cherry tomatoes give it a delicious summer freshness….so add those at the end.

This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

So easy, and full of summer flavor! I hope you love this Summer Pasta Salad as much as I do!

This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

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This Corn and Zucchini Pasta Salad is made with gluten-free rice noodles and loaded up with grilled summer veggies, then tossed in the most flavorful Cilantro Pesto.... deliciously addicting! Vegan and Gluten-free! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

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.

xoxo

Sylvia

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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! #summerpastasalad #pastasalad #cornpasta #cilantropesto #zucchinipasta #zucchini #potluck

Summer Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Corn and Cilantro Pesto

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 23 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • 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

Description

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!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 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
  • 12 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 (thin stems ok)
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 12 tablespoons chopped jalapeno ( optional)
  • 1/2 cup 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high, and boil water for the rice noodles.
  2. Prep the veggies – brush or spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour boiling water over the rice noodles, ( I put them in a baking dish) let stand for 3 minutes until tender, then drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  4. Place the veggies on the grill, lower heat to medium, cover,  checking the veggies every few minutes or so….turning.
  5. Make the Cilantro Pesto. Place all 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Notes

Feel free to add crumbled cheese- queso fresco is nice.

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

Nutrition

  • 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

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Comments

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.






  5. 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.






  6. 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!






  7. 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)?






  8. 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.

  9. 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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