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Easy Summer Pesto, Corn, and Tomato Recipe

Certain ingredients lend themselves to summer dishes. Some of those are corn, tomatoes and basil. I have a versatile dish that combines three of the best. This easy summer pesto, corn, and tomato recipe will become a favorite.

Now in the middle of summer, vegetables and herbs are in full growth, ready for harvesting. Corn and tomatoes are iconic summer vegetables. No herb is more prevalent in the summer than basil. Combine all three into one recipe and you have summer in a skillet.

Do you love a delicious recipe that can be made in one pan? This one-skillet recipe is so easy to make. And, it makes a great side dish for any protein.

Did I say that there is bacon in this summer recipe? Yes, and that makes it even better.

Pesto, Corn, and Tomatoes: Easy Summer Recipe

Sweet Shark found this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated. What attracted him to this summer recipe was the main dish – scallops. I love scallops, but what attracted me to the recipe was the side dish.

Pesto is one of the main ingredients of the dish. The recipe calls for jarred refrigerated basil pesto. Our basil plant is growing crazy so I knew I would make homemade pesto. It’s so easy and so much better than anything in the grocery store.

Fresh corn is always available in our grocery stores and we buy tomatoes of some variety every week.

Gathering Your Ingredients: Mise en Place

One of the first things I learned in my days working in the culinary school at Sur la Table was the practice of mise en place – gathering all your ingredients.

When I started teaching cooking classes, mise en place was the first thing I taught my students. It’s a practice I still follow in my own kitchen for any recipe.

Here’s how I started the mise en place for the pesto, corn and tomatoes recipe. The recipe calls for:

  • ears of corn – best bought unshucked
  • 2 slices applewood smoked bacon slices
  • multicolored cherry tomatoes – we liked grape tomatoes so that’s what I used
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • olive oil
  • jarred refrigerated basil pesto – I made my pesto from scratch; pesto needs pine nuts, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Next, prepare your ingredients:

  • chop the bacon
  • halve the tomatoes
  • shuck the corn and use your chef’s knife and cutting board to remove the kernels from the cob
  • peel and coarsely chop the garlic
  • grate the Parmegiano Reggiano
  • measure and toast the pine nuts

NOTE: I rarely measure olive oils or salt and pepper for cooking recipes. I just use my best judgment. I’ll give the amounts in the recipe below.

For the basil, you will need 3 heaping cups of fresh basil, washed and dried.

NOTE: The original recipe called for 4 large ears of corn. Since my eating plan limits my corn intake, we only used 2 large ears. Actually, two ears was plenty for the amount of the dish we made.

Making the Pesto

I’ve used the same pesto recipe for years. It’s so easy and takes just half a dozen ingredients. The only tool you need is a food processor and a spatula. It takes less than 1 minute.

I have had my Kitchen Aid Food Processor for almost twenty years and I love it.

TIP: Normally, I lightly toast the pine nuts in a small skillet. We recently read in Cook’s Illustrated that it’s OK to microwave pine nuts. If you’ve ever toasted pine nuts, you know how easy it is to burn them.

I microwaved the 1/3 cup pine nuts on a small plate for 15~second increments until they were fragrant. It was about 60 seconds in total. Not a burned pine nut in sight.

TIP: With the motor running (I use the PULSE bottom.), pour the garlic down the food processor shoot. Turn the food processor off. The method ensures finely chopped garlic.

Here’s how easy it is to make pesto:

  • Measure your ingredients.
  • Add the basil and pine nuts, and pulse for a few seconds.
  • Then add the Parmigiano Reggiano and pulse again – both times for a few seconds.
  • Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
  • Turn the processor on and slowly pour the olive oil down the shoot for about 15 seconds.
  • Sprinkle kosher salt and ground black pepper.
  • Stir the pesto and taste the pesto for salt and pepper. Add more, if needed.
  • Pour the pesto into a small bowl. Either refrigerate, covered, or set aside while you make the rest of the recipe.
pesto, corn and tomatoes recipe

Fresh Basil Pesto

adapted from John Ash
A delicious version of this classic Italian sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 cup


  • 3 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and coarsely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano or Asiago cheese
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • With the food processor running, drop the garlic into the bowl of the processor for a few seconds.
  • Add the basil and pine nuts to the bowl of the food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
  • Pour the olive oil down the feed tube of the food processor with it running for a few seconds, pureeing until smooth.
  • Remove the pesto to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.


Pesto will last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Keyword basil pesto, basil pesto recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
bowl of pesto

Cooking the Bacon, Corn, and Tomatoes

Step 1 – In a large cast-iron skillet cook the bacon until just crisp, about 6 – 8 minutes over medium-high heat.

Step 2 – Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Step 3 – To the bacon grease, add the corn kernels. Stir to coat and cook until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.

Step 4 – Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes

Step 5 – Add the basil pesto.

Step 6 – Stir the pesto into the corn and tomato mixture. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.

Step 7 – Add the crumbled cooked bacon to the pesto, corn, and tomatoes recipe

Wipe out the skillet and sear your scallops. Or pair the pesto, corn, and tomatoes recipe with these protein options:

  • grilled boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • pan-seared salmon, halibut, or tilapia
  • rib~eye or strip steak
pesto, corn and tomatoes recipe

Pesto, Corn, and Tomatoes Recipe

Cook’s Illustrated
Delicious combination of summer vegetables and herbs in one~skillet recipe.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings



  • 2 slices applewood smoked bacon chopped
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels from 4 large ears
  • 2 cups multicolored cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup fresh or jarred refrigerator basil pesto
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  • Cook bacon in a large cast~iron skillet over medium~high heat. Stir occasionally until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy, about 6 ~ 8 minutes.
  • Transfer bacon to a paper~towel ~lined plate. Leave drippings in skillet.
  • Add corn kernels. Cook, stirring often, until tender~crisp, about 4 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and add tomatoes to skillet, stirring to combine.
  • Add pesto and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper. Transfer corn to a bowl and set aside. Cover to keep warm.
  • Before serving, add cooked bacon to corn and tomatoes.
  • Place pesto, corn, and tomatoes on a serving plate. Sprinkle torn basil leaves on top.
Keyword corn recipe, vegetable recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Just before serving, sprinkle some torn basil leaves on top.

pesto, corn and tomatoes recipe

Supplies You Need to Make this Recipe

Isn’t this pesto, corn, and tomato recipe the easiest? It’s so quick and easy, too.

Here are a couple more corn recipes:

It’s also a pretty dish with bright colors. I hope that you’ll try it. First, PIN it to one of your recipe boards.

pin for later graphic in blue
pesto, corn and tomatoes recipe
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  1. Sounds really yummy! I printed your pesto recipe — looks like we’re going to have a large harvest of basil this year:) Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen