This summer pasta salad will surely brighten your day. It features avocado pesto, grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and feta cheese. Yum!
Pasta salads are great because they combine two meal staples into one fantastic dish and this summer pasta salad is proof. It fulfills the pasta craving while maintaining a light, bright, fresh flavor profile, meaning you get the best of both worlds.
Avocado pesto pasta is at the center of this delicious pasta salad. It is creamy, dreamy, and oh-so-appealing to the eyes, thanks to the avocado’s vibrant green hue. Basil, a pesto must, adds this sweet, savory profile with undertones of mint. Corn brings another layer of sweetness to the salad and some bitter char. On top of that, juicy bursts of tomato make each forkful all the more satisfying, and the tangy, saltiness of feta cheese is the perfect finish.
Why You’ll Love Summer Pasta Salad
Summer pasta salad is a showstopping vegetarian main made with healthy whole foods. Taste aside, the pasta salad is:
- Cheap and cheerful – Every single ingredient is affordable; most are probably in your kitchen or on this week’s grocery list.
- Practically foolproof – Don’t you love a recipe that is almost impossible to mess up? Me too! Aside from overcooking the pasta (which is easy to avoid with a kitchen timer), you can’t go wrong.
- Delicious at any temperature – Warm, room temperature, or chilled; the choice is yours.
- Grilled corn – Grilled corn makes anything more delicious, and this summer pasta salad is no exception. It’s crisp, fresh, and sweet.
Summer Pasta Salad Ingredient Notes
In addition to being quick and easy, the ingredients list is simple. To make this summer pasta salad recipe, you’ll need the following:
- Pasta: I used spaghetti, but small pasta like rotini or penne will also work. That said, creating little spaghetti nests is a nice touch.
- Basil: The annual herbaceous plant adds a sweet, savory note to the pesto as well as a peppery, minty kick.
- Avocado: The fatty fruit is responsible for the rich, creamy pesto. Remember, the avocado must be ripe.
- Garlic: Every good pasta salad needs a little garlic. A few cloves pack a powerful flavor punch!
- Corn: Brushed with oil and grilled to perfection, corn kernels are the seasonal touch this pasta salad needs.
- Cherry Tomatoes: The juicy bursts are sublime, and their natural sweetness is unmatched. Red cherry tomatoes are tasty, as are yellow, orange, and purple.
The complete ingredients list with amounts is in the recipe card below!
How to Make Summer Pasta Salad
To make summer pasta salad:
- Make the pasta: Bring a pot of water to a boil, lightly salt the water, and cook the pasta until al dente.
- Grill the corn: Brush the corn with oil, then grill over medium heat until tender and golden. The goal is to get a little color on the corn and bring out the sweetness. Then, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels.
- Make the pesto: Use a food processor or blender for this step. Just process/blend the pesto ingredients until smooth.
- Toss the pasta: Add drained cooked pasta to a large bowl with some avocado pesto and about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss to coat.
- Finish: Lastly, arrange the corn and tomatoes on top, along with more pesto and feta, then serve!
Variations & Substitutions
This summer pasta salad easily adapts to your tastes or dietary guidelines. Whether you’re vegan, gluten-free, need more protein per meal, or are not fond of basil, I got you covered. Substitutions and a helpful tip to keep the pesto vibrant are below:
- Swap basil for a similar herb – The best options include mint, parsley, and cilantro.
- Add lemon or lime juice – A little lemon or lime juice will prevent the avocado from turning brown. Olive oil does a good job at this, but if you plan to store the summer pasta salad, lemon or lime juice will provide a little extra insurance.
- Make it vegan – Skip the cheese or finish this summer pasta salad with vegan feta. Cheese alternatives are just as tasty!
- Go gluten-free – Substitute regular pasta for a gluten-free alternative.
- Add protein – A grilled chicken breast or two would be a nice, hearty addition to this summer pasta salad. You can also substitute regular pasta for protein pasta.
What to Serve with Summer Pasta Salad
I typically enjoy this summer pasta salad with crusty bread. Crusty bread makes it easy to sop up any remaining pesto, so nothing goes to waste. Toasted or not, a side of bread adds an extra special touch. However, if you toast the bread, rub each slice with a halved piece of garlic while it’s still warm. Quick garlic bread, anyone?
- 16oz organic spaghetti pasta (or pasta of your choice)
- 2 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbs feta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 avocado
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta liquid
- 2 cups packed basil
- Boil a pot of water and season with 1 tsp salt. Add the uncooked pasta and cook according to box instructions.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and set aside.
- Add the ears of corn to a grill pan, and brush with the olive oil.
- Cook over a medium heat and rotate until all sides are slightly golden and tender (about 20 minutes)
- Using a knife, cut the kernels off the corn and set aside.
- To make the pesto sauce, add all of the pesto ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Place the pasta into a large bowl, scoop the pesto onto the pasta and toss to combine.
- Top with tomatoes, corn, feta and pesto then serve!
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