Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Corn, and Zucchini

spaghetti with tomatoes, corn, and zucchini

If you could bottle a season in a recipe, this summer vegetable pasta would be it. All the “best hits” from the vegetable garden come together under one proverbial roof: corn, summer squash, tomatoes and basil. In fact, because it relies completely on the quality of the ingredients, it’s an easy one-season dish. Try making it in November and it will surely disappoint.

Vegetable Pasta Ingredients

This dish has been in my repertoire for years, evolving from an uncooked tomato/basil/garlic sauce that was a summertime staple. When I was pregnant, though, I couldn’t tolerate the raw garlic, so I started sautéing it before adding the tomatoes. Then corn came into the mix, followed by zucchini. It’s that sort of sauce: one that bears tinkering with depending on what you have in your fridge. Sometimes I toss in fresh mint along with the basil, use crumbled feta in lieu of Parmesan, finish with lemon zest, top with grilled shrimp, or scatter on a small handful of toasted pine nuts. 

How Healthy is this Pasta?

As far as nutrition goes, I make this like I do most pastas, with a high ratio of vegetables to noodles. I figure two to three ounces of pasta per serving, with all of the nourishing “goodies” making up the balance of the dish. Multi-grain, whole grain or gluten-free pasta will all work here. Regardless of the variety, be sure to cook the pasta al dente, both for texture and because less cooking time lowers the glycemic index. That means it digests more slowly and will keep your crowd satisfied longer. And although I prefer a long noodle for this, feel free to substitute penne or any small sturdy shape. Those tend to go over well with the little ones.

Make it a Vegan Pasta

As written, the pasta is 100 percent vegetarian. If you’d like it to be entirely vegan (or dairy-free), feel free to leave out the Parmesan. Instead, get that savory, umami flavor with a few dashes of nutritional yeast or experiment with any number of vegan Parmesan or other dairy-free cheeses in the marketplace. Plenty are surprisingly tasty. 

I made this quick summer pasta a few nights ago for the kids and my friend Alyssa. We had it with salad greens pulled from my garden and a couple of glasses of bubbly while a strawberry rhubarb pie cooled on the counter. Even though we were home, it felt like vacation. Even my kids thought so.

How to Make Pasta with Tomatoes, Corn, and Zucchini

Since summer is hardly a time you want to be indoors cooking, I’ve kept this recipe entry-level easy. Here’s how:

  1. Start by getting your pasta water going. I like to salt the water fairly generously. Add the pasta to the pot and cook until al dente.
  2. While that’s happening, saute garlic in olive oil, then add your zucchini and corn and cook until just tender.
  3. Remove the sauteed veggies from the heat and toss in tomatoes and fresh basil. Feel free to use halved cherry tomatoes if you prefer. 
  4. Drain the pasta and toss with your summer vegetables. Once that’s done, season the dish with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and serve with Parmesan on the side. 

For more tasty pasta dishes:

Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta with Kale and Bacon

Spring Vegetable Pesto Pasta

Tuna Nicoise Pasta

Basil and Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Summer Vegetable Pasta

This pasta is especially appealing for summer cooking since it fills the bill for a “15 Minute Fix”: a meal that can be pulled together start to finish in a quarter of an hour. No need to be behind the stove for long on a steamy day. Once the pasta water boils, the clock starts ticking.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Katie Morford


  • 12 ounces linguine, fettuccini or spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked, kernels cut off the cobs
  • 2 medium zucchini, 1/3-inch dice
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ fresh lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or so, being sure not to burn it. Add the corn and zucchini and sauté for a couple of minutes until the squash is just tender but not mushy. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the tomatoes and basil.
  3. When the pasta is done, drain it well and add it to the vegetables. Squeeze the lemon over everything. Stir well and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grate a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over the pasta, stir again. Taste and add more salt if needed.


07.14.2011 at11:33 PM #


Thank you..really informative!!

07.18.2011 at8:29 AM #

Pat Pat

We are having this one tonight! As always, Katie – you inspire. I love the nutrition advice of having more veggies, etc and less pasta.

07.18.2011 at8:29 AM #

Katie Morford

Thanks for chiming in Patti. I love the feedback. Katie

07.18.2011 at6:01 PM #


We just had this for dinner (summer squash instead of zucchini b/c that’s what was in the refrigerator). Delicious!

07.18.2011 at8:14 PM #


I can’t wait to make this! Thanks for another inspiring recipe, Katie!

07.18.2011 at8:14 PM #

Katie Morford

Thanks for the feedback Beverly.

07.19.2011 at8:13 AM #


I made this the other night with one of your girls dining with us. A little pressure to make it as good as yours! Thanks to your well-written recipe, the pasta was divine! Simple to make, fresh and flavorful to eat. A new staple for our kitchen, thank you!

07.19.2011 at8:13 AM #

Katie Morford

Meg, It’s always nice to hear a recipe works as intended. Thanks for letting me know.

07.23.2014 at8:05 PM #


This was easy and delicious…fresh corn is key. I doubled the lemon, but otherwise…perfection!

07.23.2014 at8:05 PM #

Katie Morford

So glad you liked it. It’s a great one to tinker with…more lemon, cilantro instead of basil, chiles, etc. etc. I’ve got another corn salad coming soon!

06.23.2020 at10:11 AM #


Can I serve this dish at room temperature. Cooking it at home and taking to a dinner party. Do I need to reheat it before serving?

06.23.2020 at10:11 AM #

Katie Morford

I think it could go either way. If it’s going to be served room temp, I’d use a short pasta shape, like rotini or penne. And you may want to add a drizzle of olive oil and extra squeeze of lemon just before serving if it’s going to sit for any time.

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