This fresh corn, tomato, pesto and mozzarella salad is perfect for summer!
Pasta salads are one of my favorite summertime make-ahead meals and I tend to make them all season long. We have them at least once a week! I can prep the ingredients— like boiling the pasta and cooking any mix-ins— in the morning before the day heats up, and then it chills in the fridge until dinner.
This corn caprese pasta salad is one of my new favorites, made with lots of fresh corn straight off the cob, cherry tomatoes, pesto, fresh basil, mini mozzarella balls, and pasta shells.
I love caprese salads— you just can’t beat tomato + mozzarella + basil in the summer time! And I love fresh seasonal corn too and I thought, why not combine the two? There’s so much good stuff going on in the salad, it’s got great crunch from the veggies, creaminess from the cheese, and bright flavor from the combination of both pesto and fresh basil.
It makes a great light summer meal as is, but you could also bulk it up with cooked chicken or bacon if you’d like. And it’s also a perfect side dish for summer potlucks and barbecues!
How to remove kernels from corn on the cob
Stand an ear of corn fat side-down in a wide shallow bowl and use a sharp knife to cut down along the ear, removing the kernels. The kernels will collect in the bowl instead of bouncing all over a cutting board or counter.
Why you shouldn’t rinse cooked pasta
Many recipes ask you to rinse cooked pasta in cold water before making pasta salad, but I think that’s a mistake! Rinsing the pasta washes away flavor and the starches that help the sauce or dressing cling to the pasta.
Instead of rinsing, drain pasta in a colander and then toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other and let cool in a single layer on a sheet pan, or in a wide bowl, tossing it every so often until cool.
Fresh Corn and Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad
- 3 ears fresh corn on the cob
- 8 oz dried short pasta, such as shells, penne or macaroni
- 8 oz mini mozzarella balls, halved
- 10 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- About 1-3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- Cook the corn: in boiling water for 5 minutes, or on the grill for 10 minutes. Let cool then remove kernels from the cob.
- Add pasta to a pot of boiling salted water and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.
- Add corn kernels, mozzarella, tomatoes, pesto, and enough olive oil to make a loose dressing with the pesto. Toss until combined.
- Add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in basil.
- Serve immediately or chill in the fridge for up to 8 hours.