clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
overhead photo of pasta topped with fresh cilantro on a grey plate with a white background

Corn and Tomato Pasta Salad

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: American


A simple corn and tomato pasta salad perfect for summer! Vegan, vegetarian.



  • 1/2 pound pasta (we used cavatappi)
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups grilled corn kernels (about 23 large ears of corn)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. 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!)
  2. While pasta cooks, zest and juice your lemon, then add zest and juice to a large bowl. (You should have about 1/4 cup of lemon juice).
  3. Add olive oil to lemon juice and whisk to combine.
  4. When pasta is done, ladle out 1/4 cup of pasta water and add it to your lemon juice/olive oil mixture.
  5. 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!
  6. 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!)
  7. When pasta has cooled, add corn kernels, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
  8. 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.

Serve this pasta salad with grilled salmon, a light tomato soup, or your favorite burger at a summer barbecue!

Keywords: Summer, vegan, vegetarian