Pasta Primavera is the ultimate spring vegetable pasta! Asparagus, zucchini, carrots, peas, and cherry tomatoes are sautéed and tossed together with pasta and a light lemon sauce. A simple, fresh, and healthy pasta recipe for spring!
This recipe and photos have been updated since the original post on 4/20/2016
I love pasta recipes that are full of vegetables. They add so much flavor and texture to pasta, which on it’s own really doesn’t have much.
What Is Pasta Primavera?
You might be thinking this is a classic Italian recipe, but it turns out it’s an American pasta dish that came about in the 1970’s. Primavera translates to spring and that’s exactly this recipe is full of, spring vegetables!
The sauce originally used cream cheese and I’ve seen others that use butter and cream. But we’re going for something less heavy in this recipe. Olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and pasta water are going to create a simple and flavorful pasta sauce.
Ingredients For Pasta Primavera
Fussili Pasta – Any shorter pasta will work for this recipe. Penne, cavatappi, farfalle, or rigatoni would all be good alternatives.
Olive Oil – Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. Since olive oil flavor the sautéed vegetables and sauce, you want to use one with good flavor. My preference is DeLallo or California Olive Ranch.
Asparagus – An iconic seasonal spring vegetable. You can buy thick or thin asparagus and both will work well for this recipe. Be sure to snap off the woody ends. They will naturally snap where the tender and woody parts meet.
Carrots – They add a touch of sweetness to the pasta. Cut them into matchsticks that are a similar length to the asparagus, about 2 inches.
Cherry Tomatoes – They add wonderful little pops of sweet flavor to the pasta.
Zucchini and/or Yellow Squash – Cut the zucchini and squash into rounds or half moons if your zucchini is large. Look for zuccini that is smaller for a sweeter flavor and less seeds. The skin should be unblemished and smooth, no wrinkles.
Peas – Frozen peas work great and there’s no need to defrost them before adding them to the vegetables. They’ll quickly defrost from the heat.
Shallots – Shallots have a milder flavor than the common onion.
Lemon – Fresh, tart and a key flavor and ingredient in the pasta primavera sauce. Use a fresh lemon for the best flavor instead of bottled lemon juice.
Italian Seasoning – This is a spice blend that is typically made up of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram.
Garlic Powder – If you prefer to use fresh garlic I would use one clove or about a 1/2 teaspoon grated or minced.
Red Pepper Flakes – They add a touch of spicy flavor to the pasta without being overwhelming. If you don’t want it to have any heat, just omit them.
Basil – Fresh basil is best for this recipe. When picking out basil make sure the leaves are bright green without any black on them.
Parmesan Cheese – Fresh shredded parmesan cheese is best. The flavor is superior and it will mix into the pasta sauce best.
How To Make Pasta Primavera
Start by cooking the pasta in salted water. When the pasta is al dente reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining it. You’ll be using it to create the pasta sauce.
In a large skillet add the olive oil. When it’s hot, but not smoking, add in the asparagus, carrots, and shallots. Sauté the vegetables for 2 minutes and then add in the tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash.
Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and add in the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.
When the vegetables are crisp tender add the pasta into the skillet. Squeeze in the lemon juice and pour in about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Stir everything together.
Turn the heat off and add in the peas and parmesan cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese starts to melt. If the sauce looks too thick or like there isn’t enough add in more pasta water a couple tablespoons at a time.
Taste the pasta for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with fresh basil and extra parmesan cheese before serving.
What Type Of Pasta Is Best For Pasta Primavera
I like to use a shorter pasta when I make this recipe. This way you can easily get a bite of vegetables and pasta all in one bite.
Pasta shapes such as fussili, penne, cavatappi, farfalle, or rigatoni are all great options. That isn’t to say fettuccine or linguine won’t work, I just prefer the shorter bite sized shapes.
Alternative Vegetables For Pasta Primavera
Almost any type of vegetable will work for this pasta recipe as long as you cut it to a similar size and use a combination that has a similar cooking time.
Mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, red bell peppers, spinach, eggplant, and red onion would all be delicious alternatives.
More Pasta Recipes
- Tomato Basil Pasta with Balsamic Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Pesto Pasta
- Zucchini Lemon Basil Ricotta Pasta
- Asparagus Goat Cheese Pasta
- Tomato Avocado Pasta Salad
Did you make this Pasta Primavera? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
- 12 ounces uncooked fusilli pasta
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
- 1 cup chopped asparagus, about 1 1/2 inches in length
- 1 cup sliced zucchini, cut into rounds or half moons
- 1 cup sliced yellow squash, cut into rounds or half moons
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic power
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Zest and juice of a lemon
- Pasta water
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Before draining the pasta reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot swirl to coat the bottom and then add in the shallots, carrots, and asparagus. Sauté for 2 minutes and then add in the zucchini, yellow squash, and cherry tomatoes.
- Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and sprinkle in the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Stir everything together.
- Add the pasta into the skillet along with 1/4 cup of the pasta water, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir together and then add in the peas, and the parmesan cheese.
- Turn the heat down to low and continue to stir until the parmesan cheese is incorporated into the sauce. If the pasta looks dry or like there isn't enough sauce, add in additional pasta water until your desired consistency is reached.
- Taste for seasoning and garnish the pasta with fresh basil and extra parmesan cheese.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 476Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 224mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 8gSugar: 9gProtein: 19g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.