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Cilantro-Pesto Pasta Salad

Ok, cilantro-lovers. Just a few simple ingredients and about 20 minutes is all you need to a really fresh, flavorful, nutritious meal that uses up all the summer produce you might have in abundance. This recipe uses corn and tomatoes, which are cheap and plentiful right about now (July/August). Feel free to add any other summer garden harvest, like roasted zucchini or peppers.

How can such simple ingredients be so yummy? You’re about to find out!


Blend up an entire large bunch of cilantro with a jalepeno (don’t worry, it’s not very spicy, just adds flavor), garlic, sunflower seeds (the oil-free way to add flavorful healthy fats), lime juice and salt. Taste and add more lime and salt until it zings just right. Aren’t cilantro and lime the key to deliciousness? In Mexican and Thai food, they’re such a staple.

Toss with your summery produce of choice and your favorite pasta. I love Banza chickpea pasta, but whole wheat, brown rice, lentil, or any other pasta works just fine.

Rotini works extra well because the pesto gets all up in those curly crevices and packs them with herby goodness. (Yes, you’ll want to taste a forkful right out of the serving bowl). So yummy!

It’s the perfect potluck dish, picnic salad, or eat-dinner-outside meal.


If you love pasta, check out these other pasta recipes. They’re quick and delicious!

Cauliflower Mac ‘n Cheese

Chili Mac

Saucy Zucchini Basil Pasta (another summer must-make!)

Cilantro-Pesto Pasta Salad
Prep Time
25 mins

Summer vegetables and pasta get tossed in a flavorful pesto made of fresh cilantro.

Course: Salad
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: cilantro, oil-free, pasta salad, pesto pasta, wfpb
Author: Faithful Plateful
Cilantro Pesto
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pepitas
  • 3 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 jalepeno, seeds removed
  • 2 cups cilantro (1 large bunch, including stems and leaves)
Pasta Salad
  • 16 oz pasta of choice (I use chickpea pasta)
  • 2 cups corn (preferably fresh cut off the cob)
  • 1-2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • additional summer vegetables of choice, if desired (grilled zucchini or yellow squash, peppers, avocado) or feta cheese (such as tofu feta)
  1. Bring water to boil, and cook the pasta.

  2. Cut corn off the cob into a large serving bowl. Add grape tomatoes.

  3. Make the pesto in a food processor. Process all the ingredients except cilantro first, until the garlic and jalepeno are blended well and the sunflower seeds make it creamy.

    Add the cilantro and run the food processor until smooth like pesto. Add 1-3 tablespoons water if needed to thin it out so it tosses easily with the pasta. Taste and add more salt or lime juice, if desired.

  4. Stir all together and enjoy! Lasts for about 3 days in the fridge, but the cilantro will turn a dark color. The flavor is still good. For a vibrant green color, serve immediately.


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