This easy corn and tomato pasta salad is perfect for summer! Fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, and cilantro mixed with cavatappi and a fresh lemon dressing make this pasta salad recipe a hit. Vegan, Vegetarian.
This post contains affiliate links: if you buy something we’ll earn a small commission at no cost to you.
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.
This easy (vegan! vegetarian!) pasta salad lends the perfect pop of summertime to any potluck or picnic. Serve it immediately while it’s still slightly warm, or make it ahead of time and serve it as a cold side dish. Pair it with grilled salmon, your favorite burger, or roasted veggies!
This recipe is VERY forgiving, so don’t be afraid to customize it with whatever you have on hand. We love adding parmesan cheese, fresh basil or pesto, arugula, cherry tomatoes, or grilled chicken for an easy weeknight main dish all summer long.
Also, fun fact: This pasta salad is vegetarian and vegan (vegans, just make sure you grab dried pasta made without eggs)! You could also easily adapt this recipe to be gluten free by using your favorite gluten-free pasta noodles.
Sold? Yes? Good. READYYYYYY, GO!
Video: How to make corn and tomato pasta salad
A simple corn and tomato pasta salad perfect for summer! Vegan, vegetarian.
- ½ pound pasta (we used cavatappi)
- 1 large lemon
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups grilled corn kernels (about 2–3 large ears of corn)
- 1 ½ 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 salad and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro and enjoy!
Don’t forget to salt your pasta water! Because there are so few ingredients, seasoning is especially important with this recipe.
Ingredient Notes. Use a good quality olive oil here – with so few ingredients, it’s especially important to use an olive oil you like. We love using cavatappi, fusilli, or other short, textured pastas here. Use plenty of fresh ground black pepper to give this pasta salad a nice bite.
Substitutions. 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 are all great additions. We also love adding parmesan cheese, mozzarella, basil pesto, or feta. Use whole wheat pasta here if you like, or opt for your favorite gluten-free variety! Use cherry or grape tomatoes in place of diced tomatoes if you prefer. Swap the cilantro for basil. Add a few handfuls of fresh arugula, kale, or spinach for a lighter salad.
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!
Make-Ahead Tips. Store cooked pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. If you’re making this pasta salad more than a day ahead of time, we recommend waiting to add the tomatoes until you’re ready to serve. If pasta salad is dry after being in the fridge for awhile, add a splash of olive oil or lemon juice to bring it back to life. We do not recommend freezing cooked pasta salad.
Keywords: Summer, vegan, vegetarian