Summer Sweet Corn Salad

$7.67 recipe / $0.96 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.78 from 18 votes
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Fresh sweet corn is one of my favorite things about summer. It’s so sweet and juicy when it’s fresh, and the smell of the husks as you peel them back from the cob brings back so many memories of summers past. So when I saw fresh sweet corn on sale at the grocery store this week I grabbed a couple and whipped up this super simple Summer Sweet Corn Salad. It has a medley of colorful vegetables, a little pasta to bulk it out, and a super fresh lemon vinaigrette keeps everything light and flavorful. This is a very flexible recipe and I’ve got a couple modification ideas for you below!

Overhead view of a serving bowl full of Summer Sweet Corn Salad

Make it Pasta-Free

I added pasta to my salad for bulk, but you can totally make this salad without pasta, too! Just double up your vegetables, drizzle that lemon vinaigrette over top, and you’re good to go! You can eat the vegetable salad as-is, or scoop it over a bed of greens.

Add a Protein and Make it a Meal

If you want to eat this salad as a main dish instead of serving it as a side, try adding some grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, boiled shrimp, or cooked salmon on top. It’s such a light and fresh dish that it pairs really well with “lighter” meat and seafood.

Can You Eat Raw Corn??

Yes, yes, and YES! Raw sweet corn is soooo sweet, crisp, and juicy. It’s an absolute delight! It adds nice little pops of sweetness throughout this salad that contrast so well with the creamy avocado and tangy vinaigrette. 

If you don’t have fresh corn for this salad, I would suggest frozen corn as the next best substitute, BUT just know that it’s 100x better with fresh sweet corn.

Doesn’t the Avocado Turn Black?

Nope! I kept this salad in my fridge for four days and it was still great. On day two there was no noticeable difference in the appearance of the avocado chunks. By day four, they were slightly grey on the edges, but overall still looked great. The lemon vinaigrette goes a long way toward preventing the oxidization that usually causes the color change. 

What to Serve with Sweet Corn Salad

This salad makes a great side dish to Quick BBQ Chicken, Sheet Pan Portobello Fajitas, Cilantro Lime Chicken, Garlic Butter Baked Cod, Baked Spicy Chicken Sandwiches, Marinated Portobello Burgers, or BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken.

Close up of a bowl of Summer Sweet Corn Salad with a wooden spoon in the middle

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Summer Sweet Corn Salad

4.78 from 18 votes
Colorful summer vegetables, creamy avocado, pasta shells, and a homemade lemon vinaigrette make this light and fresh Summer Sweet Corn Salad.
Close up of a bowl of Summer Sweet Corn Salad with a wooden spoon in the middle
Servings 8 1 cup each
Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 30 mins

Ingredients

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil ($0.64)
  • 1 fresh lemon ($0.89)
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil ($0.03)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard ($0.04)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley ($0.20)

Salad*

  • 8 oz. pasta shells ($0.63)
  • 2 cobs sweet corn ($0.80)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes ($2.50)
  • 2/3 lb. zucchini ($0.89)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion ($0.11)
  • 1 avocado ($0.89)

Instructions 

  • Zest and juice the lemon. You'll need 2 Tbsp juice and ½ tsp zest. Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, basil, Dijon, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley in a bowl or jar. Whisk the ingredients in a bowl, or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the vinaigrette aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add a couple large pinches of salt to the pasta water, then add the pasta. Continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7 minutes), then drain in a colander. Rinse the pasta briefly with cool water, then allow it to drain well.
  • While the pasta is cooking and draining, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Slice the corn kernels off the cobs, slice the grape tomatoes in half, dice the zucchini, finely dice the onion, and dice the avocado.
  • Once the pasta has drained well and cooled, add it to a large bowl with the prepared vegetables. Pour the dressing over top, then toss until everything is evenly combined and coated in dressing. Season with a pinch of salt to taste, then serve.

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Notes

*The vegetable amounts are very flexible. If you have a little more or a little less of each, it's okay.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 255.84kcalCarbohydrates: 35.68gProtein: 5.95gFat: 11.54gSodium: 68.91mgFiber: 4.28g
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How to Make Summer Sweet Corn Salad – Step by Step Photos

A zested and juiced lemon on a cutting board

Zest and juice a lemon. You’ll need 2 Tbsp juice and ½ tsp zest.

Lemon Dressing in a jar

To make the lemon vinaigrette, combine ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, ½ tsp lemon zest, 1/4 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, ⅛ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper, and about ¼ cup chopped parsley. If you do this in a bowl you can whisk the ingredients together, or combine them in a jar and shake until they’re combined.

draining shell pasta in a metal colander

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add a couple pinches of salt and 8 oz. pasta shells. Continue to boil the pasta for about 7 minutes, or until tender. Drain the pasta in a colander, and give it a brief rinse with cool water. Let the pasta drain well.

Cutting corn off the cob

While the pasta is cooking and draining, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Cut the kernels off two cobs of sweet corn. I like to do this with the end of the cob in a bowl so they kernels fall right off into the bowl instead of flying all over the kitchen. Haha!

Chopped vegetables on the cutting board

Also dice about ⅔ lb. zucchini, slice 1 pint grape tomatoes in half, finely dice about ¼ cup red onion, and dice one avocado.

Dressing being poured over the salad ingredients in the bowl

Add the drained and cooled pasta to a large bowl with the corn, zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, and avocado. Pour the dressing over top, then toss until everything is combined and coated in dressing.

Seasoning the salad with a pinch of salt

Finally, add just a small pinch of salt on top, if desired. I like to have a little bit of crystalized salt on the surface of the pasta and vegetables for a little pop of flavor. 

Overhead view of a serving bowl of summer sweet corn salad with a wooden spoon on the side

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  1. This was really tasty and refreshing! The sweetness from the corn balances out the tang of the dressing. I also had to double the dressing, because the pasta soaked it up right away and left too subtle a flavor. I also like a lot of dressing on pasta salads. But the flavors worked really well together and I was so glad to use some of my farmer’s market haul.

  2. I absolutely love this salad. I did double the dressing recipe as well as used lots of fresh chopped basil instead of the dried. The left

    over dressing was used for green side salads and it was delicious. Great recipe from a wonderful website!

  3. Ohhhhhh. remember the days when an avocado was under $1, 2 ears of corn under $2, & a pint of tomatoes under $3!

    1. I actually got all of my stuff for those exact prices. Combination farmers market and at Aldi. Must depend where you live

  4. I was thinking this would be a great side dish stuffed into a cold cooked large pasta shell on some Romaine for a really warm night, with a chilled soup and a light main course. I myself need 1 hot meal per day to feel I’ve actually eaten, but it could be just a grilled cheese sandwich or a lite pasta. You could serve the over a cooled herbed grain, or switch out the Conchiglie for brown rice, whole grain Cous Cous or Orzo. I would love this for breakfast on a hot day plain, as part of a bowl meal, or piled on a piece of toast. I might add some beans for protein, I run short of protein chronically. For lunch paired with a bean salad. Or grain salad and serve on a romaine leaf with some extra cherry tomatoes. It would be a good filling for a lettuce wrap, as a snack. This is really a great versatile recipe.and I thank you.. I’ve been trying to find a way to include vegetables in breakfast. Now I know how. To do it.

    1. Zucchini grow in all different sizes, but the recipe is very flexible so you don’t have to have exactly ⅔ lb. One medium zucchini should work fine.

  5. Makes a huge batch, great for get-togethers. I made mine about 5 hours ahead of time and the pasta turned a little green, but the avocado wasn’t brown yet. Needed A LOT more salt and probably more dressing. My lemon had about 3 tbsp juice in it and I ended using all of it. More zest wouldn’t hurt either.

  6. I think I’ve commented in the past, but my 18 year old son just came to me and asked me for the “Pasta salad, with corn, tomatoes, zucchini and avocado” I knew it was this one. He wants to make it for a picnic for his girlfriend because it is so yummy.

  7. I almost never leave comments on recipes… but this is one of our favorites of all time! I am an ER nurse and I work nights, and I don’t have a huge appetite in the middle of the night on my shifts. This recipe is light and refreshing and feels like summer in a bowl. It is exactly what I need to make me feel full and nourished. Such a good recipe– and I was super skeptical about the raw corn but it was amazing!

  8. Absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and added a can of chickpeas for more heartiness. It kept so well (great weekday lunch) and I will definitely be making it again!

  9. This is delish! I’ve made it twice now, and add a tin of rinsed butter beans to add some protein and make it a complete meal. It makes approx 5 workday lunches this way. And it just tastes better every day – the vinaigrette somehow keeps it super fresh but gets tastier every day!

  10. YUM! I upped everything but the pasta and made a chicken breast to chop up in there. Delish. I may add more lemon to the dressing next time to make the acidity pop a little more, but so good!

  11. I almost never manage to use all of the fresh parsley, so try not to buy and waste it. Any recommendations of how to adapt with dried parsley instead? I’m excited to try this!

    1. I’m not sure I’d use dried parsley for this one. The parsley is used here to provide that fresh green element, so I don’t think dried parsley would have the same effect. I would either just skip it, or add in any other fresh herbs that you might happen to have on hand, if you have any. :)

    2. You could snip the remaining parsley leaves on to paper towels and dry them. Save the stems to flavor broths and poaching liquids ( they should freeze until needed then drop them directly into liquid, or meal plan 2 dishes it a week that need parsley, even add parsley leaves to salad greens to enhance the flavor of lettuces, with a contrast. Or use it up as a garnish on meals. The same tricks work with most herbs. 

  12. Just made this as a side tonight, loved it! I was wondering what would be a good substitution for the Lemon Vinaigrette?