Pasta Primavera

This dish is such a celebration of garden-fresh vegetables and classic Italian cuisine!

We love this classic pasta dish so much and we enjoy making all-year long. But, in the springtime and summertime, when fresh vegetables are at their peak, this dish is one of our all-time favorites. Even the meat-lovers in your family will flip for this deeply flavorful dish.  The Loon certainly did!  And it’s ready in about 30 to 40 minutes!

A large stainless steel saucepan filled with Pasta Primavera and grey napkin and wooden spoon next to it.

How to Make Pasta Primavera

This Pasta Primavera recipe is all about fresh vegetables, quality pasta, and a few other ingredients to deliver incredible taste.

Be sure to have all the components of the dish prepped before you start cooking. Then it all comes together very quickly!

Choosing the Best Pasta

You really can’t go wrong when selecting a pasta for this dish.

We think smaller pasta, such as fusilli, penne, or rigatoni is the perfect match for the sautéed vegetables.

But spaghetti alla primavera is wonderful, too. As mentioned, you can’t go wrong. Fresh homemade pasta is a glorious option, too!

EXPERT TIP: Before cooking the pasta (according to the package instructions), we blanch the asparagus and broccoli pieces in a pot of boiling and salted water. Blanch them for 3 minutes and then use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables. Place in an ice bath to prevent further cooking. Now, you can cook your pasta! The water will have a hint of the veggie taste, which is great. Save about 1 cup of the pasta water, you may need it later.

Drain the pasta and add 1 tbsp of olive oil to keep it from stick together.  Toss and then set aside.

A large glass bowl filled with cooked pasta and a person pouring olive oil into it from a dispenser.

What is Pasta Primavera?

Primavera means ‘springtime’ in Italian and the dish utilizes all those amazing vegetables that are at their peak in the spring and into summer.

Vegetables for our Pasta Primavera Sauce include:

  • Button mushrooms, quartered
  • Broccoli florets
  • Asparagus tips (save the stalks for another use)
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet Peas
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Garlic and fresh basil

This recipe was made famous by Sirio Maccioni of New York City’s famed Le Cirque. We start by sautéeing garlic and then the quartered mushrooms. Cook until soft and just starting to release the mushroom liquid, about 4 minutes.

A large stainless steel skilled filled with quartered button mushrooms and garlic, all being sauteed.

Now, it’s time to add in the blanched broccoli and asparagus.

We don’t blanch the zucchini, we just let it soften in the skillet with the other veggies.

Cook, along with the frozen peas, until everything is tender, but not mushy.

A large stainless steel skillet filled with sauteed broccoli and mushrooms.

Finishing the Dish

Once the veggies are sautéed, add back in the pasta and stir to combine.

We love a slightly creamy pasta primavera sauce, so the addition of heavy cream and grated Parmesan gives the classic taste and texture.

EXPERT TIP: You can substitute half-and-half for the heavy cream if you prefer. We find that the cream combined with Parmesan cheese delivers a luxurious sauce but still maintains a lightness to it, which is preferred.

A hand pouring cream from a milk jar into a skillet filled cooked pasta and broccoli.

Now, one more step to finish this iconic pasta dish.

In a separate skillet, over medium heat, add the oil and then sauté the garlic with basil and halved cherry tomatoes.

EXPERT TIP: Cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt and break down a bit. Hit with a pinch of salt and pepper. This can be done in advance, but we recommend doing it while the rest of the dish is keeping warm in the skillet over low heat.

A steel saucepan filled with cherry tomatoes that have been halved and fresh basil.

The Perfect Vegetarian Pasta Dish

This dish is amazingly loaded with flavor, that there is no need to add a protein.

Once the dish is plated, all that’s needed is another good grating of fresh Parmesan cheese on top.

EXPERT TIP: Fresh Parmesan is ideal for topping the dish. If you don’t have a cheese grater, you can scrape the block of the cheese along the small holes of a box grater, or with a zester, or micro-plane.

A hand scraping a block of Parmesan cheese over a microplane with grated cheese falling into a skillet of pasta primavera.

Serve this with a nice crisp white wine, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pino Grigio, and you will be very happy.

A crusty loaf of Italian bread is a nice touch.

And did we mention how beautiful the plated dish is? And then you take that first bite. Oh, yeah!

A dark dinner plate filled with a serving of pasta primavera with sauteed tomatoes on top.

Another recipe you might enjoy is our Pappardelle with Seasonal Vegetables!

But in the meantime, are you ready to make the most amazingly delicious meatless pasta dish in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A large stainless steel skilled filled with pasta primavera topped with sauteed tomatoes and shaved cheese.

Pasta Primavera

This is a classic dish. You just can't get much better than Pasta Primavera. Brimming with fresh vegetables, and just enough cream and cheese to make it light, but still luxurious. Amazing!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Italian
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: creamy pasta primavera recipe, Pasta, spaghetti all primavera, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 568kcal

Equipment

  • Large saucepan, small saucepan, pot for cooking pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup asparagus tips (save the stalks for another use)
  • 1 lb pasta dried, such as fusilli or rigatoni
  • 7 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 5 cloves garlic minced, divided
  • 8 oz. mushrooms quartered
  • 1 small zucchini quartered lengthwise, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup sweet peas frozen
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • cup Parmesan cheese grated, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • tsp Kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes or cherry, halved
  • 2 tbsp basil fresh, chopped
  • ½ cup pine nuts toasted

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (according to package instructions). Drain, saving 1 cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, heat 5 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add about ⅔ of the garlic (2 minced cloves) and cook until just starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and just starting to release liquid, about another 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Drain the broccoli and asparagus and add to the saucepan with the mushrooms. Add in the zucchini and peas and cook until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Carefully stir in the cooked pasta, cream, Parmesan cheese, butter, 1 tsp salt, and pepper. Stir to fully incorporate. Taste and add another ½ tsp of salt, if desired. If you feel it needs it, add a little of the pasta water to loosen the sauce even more.
  • Meanwhile, heat a medium-small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the remaining garlic (about 3 minced cloves), tomatoes, basil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until tomatoes are wilting and just starting to break down.
  • Pour the tomato mixture over the top of the pasta and garnish with toasted pine nuts. Serve at once.

Video

Notes

We love going with a smaller pasta for this dish, such as fusilli, penne, or rigatoni.  However, a long pasta such as spaghetti, linguini, or fettucini, are all great choices, too.
You can also blanch the zucchini along with the broccoli and asparagus, but we find that sometimes makes the zucchini too soft for our liking.  It doesn't take much time in the skillet for it to become tender.  The frozen peas cook just long enough to become the perfect texture and temperature. 
Half-and-half can be substituted for the cream, and the butter can be omitted for an even lighter dish.  We think the cream, cheese, and butter, add just enough sauce that the dish still feels light, but deeply flavorful.
Adding pasta water to the dish is not necessary, but if it feels a little 'tight', then add a little water, to your liking. 
This dish is so good, it's even delicious room temperature, but we feel it's at its very best right off the stove.
The dish will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It can be frozen for up to 1 month, however, it will lose the brightness the longer it sits in the fridge or freezer. 

Nutrition

Calories: 568kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 791mg | Potassium: 615mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1408IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 201mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in June 2015, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe and new tips, photography, and a fabulous video in August 2020.
This recipe is adapted from Sirio Maccioni of the famed New York City’s Le Cirque and published online by Saveur.

5 Comments

  • This looks wonderful, just a quick question: Is this dish served hot or cold? The pasta is cooked first and will have cooled down a lot by the time I cook all the other ingredients as well as adding cream from the fridge. Just checking… thank you! PS: Your key lime pie is superb, making it a second time today.

    • Hi Linda! So sorry for the delayed response. We do like to serve this warm. After we stir in the pasta with the cream, cheese, butter, salt and pepper. We keep it all warm on the stove while we prepare the tomato basil mixture. We’re going to update the recipe to make that more clear. Thanks so much and let us know if you make the dish and what you think. It’s one of our favorites!! Best, Kris & Wesley

    • Awesome, Mary!! So glad you and the family enjoyed the pasta primavera! That’s one of our favorites, too!! Thanks so much for letting us and for the wonderful review!! All the best, Kris & Wesly

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