It’s time to say hi to the BEST pasta salad I’ve ever made in my life! I first made this street corn pasta salad last year and you guys raved about it. It’s back again, this time with new photos and a reminder to make it for all of your summer BBQs, parties and weeknight dinners.
I’ve had a lot of experience with a wide variety of pasta salads. My Dad used to make his famous tuna noodle with lots of miracle whip while mom preferred the healthier pesto and tomato based pasta salads. Basically, I grew up on pasta salads and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m guessing you feel the same, because when I polled my FB group last month (join us!) you said that you wanted to see pasta salad recipes on the blog this summer. And finally I get to share one with you!
Usually my go-to pasta salads are my Mediterranean pasta salad with beautiful roasted vegetables and my chickpea avocado pasta salad which is perfect for vegetarians who want extra protein. Both delicious options, but nowhere near as incredible as this street corn pasta salad! I’m telling you, it’s a recipe you’re going to want to make again and again. PROMISE.
I first came up with this recipe when Tony and I were on one of our long morning walks by the lake. I was dreaming about a way to make a unique pesto and since I’m basically obsessed with cilantro, I knew that had to be it. First I thought about putting it on grilled street corn, but in my brain the recipe kept evolving, and I’m so glad it did. This street corn pasta salad is so fresh and flavorful, I could eat it every single day.
Ingredients in street corn pasta salad
Grilled corn. The star of the show. Drizzle two ears of corn with a little avocado or olive oil, sprinkle with cumin and chili powder, then a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You’ll grill it to perfection, then shave off the corn with a knife.
Pasta. You can use any kind of pasta you like, although we really loved bowtie pasta in this. I also think rotini would be fantastic. My favorite gluten free pasta is the Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta. If you have any other great gluten free pasta recommendations, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
Cilantro pesto. This is basically a version of basil pesto, except we’re using lime juice, jalapeño, cashews and of course, lots of fresh cilantro aka my life blood. You might want to just double the batch and save some for putting on EVERYTHING (tacos, enchiladas, sandwiches, etc!).
Avocado. We’re making this heart healthy by adding ripe avocado. Plus, it adds another layer of creaminess.
Goat cheese. My latest obsession that I can’t stop putting in everything. If you’re not into goat cheese, sub feta!
Red bell pepper: Adds a nice crunch factor and makes the pasta pretty.
Red onion: We’re only using a little bit, but it adds a ton of flavor. If you love onions, add more!
How to make street corn pasta salad ahead of time
You can absolutely make this recipe ahead of time! Just add everything except avocado. Store covered in the fridge until ready to serve. Once ready to serve add avocado and a little lime juice.
Personally, I love this pasta for parties. It makes about 6-8 side servings (or 4-5 large main servings), but people that I’ve tested it on have loved it so much that they’ve gone back for more! I promise you will too. I’ll be making it for the 4th of July and can’t wait to have it again.
Make it a main meal: I suggest adding grilled chicken to this recipe to make it a main meal.
P.S. Tony says it tastes like a Chipotle burrito bowl, which in his book means it’s pretty epic!
See how to make the street corn pasta salad:
If you try this street corn pasta salad, be sure to leave a comment and rate it below and let me know how you liked it. And of course, don’t forget to snap a photo and tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. xo!
Street Corn Pasta Salad with Cilantro Pesto & Goat Cheese
- For the corn
- 2 large ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
- 1-2 teaspoons avocado or olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- For the pasta
- 8 ounces bow tie pasta (or your favorite pasta)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 avocado, diced
- 1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles
- ½ cup diced red onion
- For the cilantro pesto
- 1 cup cilantro leaves (about ½ a bunch)
- 1/3 cup roasted or raw cashews
- 1 small lime, juiced
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 jalapeño, seeded
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary to thin the pesto
- To garnish:
- Extra cilantro
- 1/2 avocado, if desired
- 2 tablespoons goat cheese crumbles
Preheat grill to high. Drizzle corn with olive or avocado oil. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Place the corn directly on grill and turn occasionally until corn is charred and cooked, about 10 minutes. Allow corn to cool then cut the corn from the cob and set aside.
While the corn is cooking, you can boil your pasta until al dente, according to the directions on the pasta package.
Once the pasta is done, drain, rinse with cool water then add to a large bowl.
Next make the cilantro pesto: Add cilantro, cashews, lime juice, garlic clove, jalapeno, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Process until smooth, add water if necessary to help thin the pesto and make it easier to process.
Add the pesto directly to the bowl with the pasta and mix to combine.
Next add in the corn, red bell pepper, avocado, goat cheese and red onion. Gently mix together.
Place in fridge for serving for later, or serve immediately! Once ready to serve, garnish with extra cilantro, avocado, goat cheese and jalapeno slices, if you'd like. Serves 6.
To make ahead of time: Prepare salad as directed, adding everything except avocado. Store covered in the fridge until ready to serve. Once ready to serve add avocado and a little lime juice. Pasta salad can be made a day in advance.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats