This easy, vegetarian pasta salad comes together in no time and is perfect for summer entertaining! Fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, and cilantro mixed with cavatappi and a fresh lemon sauce make this pasta salad recipe a hit.
Can we just talk for a minute about how impossibly perfect the whole summer sweet corn + summer tomatoes + fresh cilantro combination is? Because IT IS SO PERFECT.
SO perfect, in fact, that it just took me twenty minutes to write that itty bitty first sentence.
Because I was too busy stuffing all of this leftover pasta salad right into my face. (ALL. OF. IT).
Also because why would anyone want to sit at a computer and WRITE THINGS when the most perfect summer produce is wrapped up in the most perfect pasta salad and is calling out to them from the fridge saying “EAT ME I AM PERFECT YOU DON’T EVEN NEED TO DO WORK TODAY”?
You guyyyyyyyys. I’m powerless to resist the call of the leftovers.
Also HI HELLO WE GREW THESE TOMATOES RIGHT HERE ⬆️⬇️⬆️⬇️⬆️⬇️ and I am pretty much 150% stoked about it.
Blergh. Should I be telling you, liiiiiike, THINGS about this pasta salad? Instead of just eating it at my desk? And procrastinating? Maybe?
Reasons you need this pasta salad in your life:
- VEGETARIAN. (Yeahhhhhh, buddy!)
- Corn + Tomatoes + Cilantro (remember? IT’S THE MOST PERFECT)
- Carbs! Squiggly, noodle-y, cavatappi-y, carb-tastic carbs.
- Easy easy easy EASY to make. Most of the “cook” time is really just letting the pasta cool while it soaks up the lightest, most delightful lemon juice + olive oil mix.
Sold? Yes? Good. READYYYYYY, GO!
- ½ lb. cavatappi pasta
- 1 large lemon
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 cups grilled corn kernels (about 2-3 large ears of corn)
- 1.5 cups diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta in very salty water until 1 minute less than al dente (the pasta will continue to soften as it cools, so undercooking it just a bit helps it stay al dente once the salad is done!)
- While pasta cooks, zest and juice your lemon, then add zest and juice to a large bowl. (You should have about ¼ cup of lemon juice).
- Add olive oil to lemon juice and whisk to combine.
- When pasta is done, ladle out ¼ cup of pasta water and add it to your lemon juice/olive oil mixture.
- Drain the remaining pasta water off and add drained pasta directly to the lemon juice mixture. Toss to coat and set aside to cool. Don't worry if there's some liquid left at the bottom of the bowl - the pasta will soak this up as it cools!
- Let pasta cool on the counter for 20-30 minutes, until it's just about room temperature. (This cooling step is important because we don't want the pasta to be so hot that it cooks the other ingredients!)
- When pasta has cooled, add corn kernels, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
- Cover pasta and store in the fridge for 2-3 hours or until you're ready to serve. Garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro and enjoy!
Be sure to use a good quality olive oil.
You can add any veggies or herbs you like to this dish - mix it up and make it your own! Bell peppers, zucchini, green beans, basil, roasted jalapeños, or chives would all be great additions.
Make sure to taste the pasta salad before you add seasoning at the end - remember, the pasta water will add a nice salty flavor to the pasta, so you may not need as much salt as you would otherwise!
Use plenty of fresh ground black pepper to give this pasta salad a nice bite.