Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera-this classic pasta dish is a wonderful mixture of colorful vegetables and a simple lemon Parmesan cream sauce. It is the perfect pasta recipe for spring and summer!

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera is a classic pasta dish that was born in the 70’s at Le Cirque, a popular New York City restaurant. It was soon being served at restaurants all over and is still a popular pasta recipe today! Pasta Primavera is a favorite dish during the spring and summer months because it is made with lots of vegetables, a light lemon cream sauce, Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs. It is light, refreshing, colorful, and so delicious. I am so glad this pasta dish is still popular because it is one of my favorite pasta recipes.

Pasta Primavera Recipe

What Pasta Should I Use to Make Pasta Primavera?

Rumor has it the original pasta primavera recipe was made with spaghetti, but I like to use shorter pasta noodles that are about the same size as the vegetables. Easier to eat and I like shaped pasta. Penne pasta is my favorite but farfalle, rigatoni, orecchiette, and fusilli are good options. And of course you can use spaghetti, angel hair, or fettuccine, if you want to do some slurping:) You can use regular pasta, whole wheat pasta, or gluten-free pasta!

Pasta Primavera Vegetables

What Vegetables Are In Pasta Primavera?

Primavera means spring, so pasta primavera is usually made with lots of spring vegetables. But feel free to use your favorite vegetables or whatever vegetables you have in your garden or refrigerator. You want to use a mix of colorful, fresh vegetables, but there really are no rules. For this recipe, I used: asparagus, broccoli, bell pepper, zucchini, peas, and tomatoes. Mushrooms, yellow squash, artichoke hearts, carrots, and spinach are also good in pasta primavera. You really can’t go wrong, bring on the veggies!

Creamy Pasta Primavera

I make Pasta Primavera with a lemon cream sauce, which is pretty standard, but you can make pasta primavera without cream, but I don’t like it as much…ha! I think the lemon cream sauce with fresh Parmesan and all of the veggies is the right way to go. I mean, you are getting LOTS of veggies so the cream sauce is totally ok. Balance, right? And the cream sauce is on the lighter side, it isn’t super heavy or thick like fettuccine alfredo.

How to Make Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera is a simple pasta dish and makes a great meal for weeknights, entertaining, or even lunch!

  • The hardest part is cutting up the vegetables and that really isn’t hard, it just takes a little time. You can cut the vegetables up a few days in advance and keep them in the refrigerator or you can cut them up the morning you are going to make the recipe so when it’s time to make dinner, you are ready to go! This is a great recipe to meal prep in advance.
  • Get a big pot of water boiling and add SALT! Don’t forget, the salt adds flavor to the pasta. I add about a tablespoon of kosher salt. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 11 minutes.
  • While the pasta is cooking, work on the vegetables and sauce. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the asparagus, peppers, and broccoli. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the zucchini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender, but still crisp. I add the zucchini after the other vegetables because it doesn’t take as long to cook. If your vegetables require different cooking times, that is fine, just start with the ones that take longer to cook and add the other veggies in later.
  • Season vegetables with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the vegetables to a large plate or bowl and set aside so you can make the sauce.
  • Place the skillet back on the stove. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and vegetable broth. Simmer until the broth reduces by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • Stir the peas into the pot with the pasta, you don’t have to cook them first. Stir in the cooked vegetables. Pour the lemon cream sauce over the pasta and vegetables and stir until well combined. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, make sure you use GOOD Parmesan cheese, not the stuff in the can:) Add the remaining tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, tomatoes, and basil. Pour the pasta primavera into a large serving bowl or dish. Garnish with parsley, extra Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes. ENJOY!

Can I add Chicken or Shrimp?

Yes! If you want to add a protein to the pasta primavera, chicken or shrimp are good options. You can use grilled chicken, shredded rotisserie chicken, or leftover cooked chicken. Shrimp also goes great with the pasta, veggies, and cream sauce. Plus, shrimp only takes a few minutes to cook so you wouldn’t be adding a lot of extra work to get dinner on the table!

Classic Pasta Primavera Recipe

What to Serve with Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera is such a pretty pasta dish and is really quite filling. It could be a meal on it’s own, but if you want to make a few side dishes to serve on the side, here are a few of our favorites.

More Pasta Recipes:

Classic Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera-this classic pasta dish is a wonderful mixture of colorful vegetables and a simple lemon Parmesan cream sauce. It is the perfect pasta recipe for spring and summer! 
4.89 from 45 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 16 oz penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz asparagus, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice, divided
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ cups halved grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, for garnish
  • Extra parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook for 11 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain well. Pour the pasta back into the pot.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the asparagus, peppers, and broccoli. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the zucchini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender, but still crisp. Season vegetables with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the vegetables to a large plate or bowl.
  • Place the skillet back on the stove. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and vegetable broth. Simmer until the broth reduces by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • Stir the peas into the pot with the pasta. Stir in the cooked vegetables. Pour the lemon cream sauce over the pasta and vegetables and stir until well combined. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and remaining tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Gently stir in the tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. 
  • Pour the pasta primavera into a large serving bowl or dish. Garnish with parsley, extra Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 375kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 240mg, Potassium: 500mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1265IU, Vitamin C: 67.7mg, Calcium: 130mg, Iron: 2.1mg
Keywords pasta primavera

Have you tried this recipe?

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Photos by Dishing Out Health

This Pasta Primavera is a classic pasta dish recipe with a wonderful mixture of colorful vegetables and a simple lemon Parmesan cream sauce. It is light, refreshing, and healthy! A great meal for weeknights, entertaining, or even lunch this spring and summer.
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Maria

I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. 5 stars
    I always try vegetarian recipes when my husband is not here for dinner since I’m not the biggest fan of cooking/eating meat. This was AMAZING! One of the closest primavera recipes I’ve found to the real thing. I did not use asparagus and I added spicy peppers.

    1. 4 stars
      This was really really good…flavor profile was fantastic. I used fresh sugar snap peas and it worked great. Also had a poblano in the refrigerator and that added a great kick. Be careful setting veggies and/or pasta aside because they will continue to cook…my fault. I will make it again with a couple of execution adjustments.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this twice in 2 weeks! Trying to eat vegetarian more often and loved all the textures and light flavors. Only substitute I made was that I used whole wheat pasta and half and half, since that’s what I had on hand. Will definitely bookmark and make again!

  3. It’s impossible to say how many times I’ve made Pasta Primavera over the years, but hands down, this is the most delicious and easy recipe I’ve ever made. Follow carefully for crisp, fresh vegetables. I added frozen shrimp during the reduction, then a splash of white wine, then lemon, frozen peas and basil with heat off. I didn’t have pepper flakes, so used a few teaspoons of Aleppo pepper at the end. So delicious!!!

    1. I am thrilled you loved our pasta primavera recipe! Thanks for letting us know.

  4. We loved this! The lemon cream sauce was light and superb. I bought your cookbooks for my children and myself this Christmas and my son said it was an inspiration for him to cook with and for his wife. I use your recipes every day.

  5. I made this with coconut cream instead of heavy cream (lactose free) and the sauce was very thin. I wonder if it should have had less broth. Any suggestions?

    1. I have never tried using coconut cream. It might not thicken the same as heavy cream.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this twice in 2 weeks for company, it was a big hit and guests asked for the recipe. I eliminated the peppers (just because I don’t care for them), added extra zucchini, and eliminated heavy cream (substituted salty, starchy pasta water). This will be a go-to recipe!

  7. Can I just say this was by FAR the best recipe I have ever used for Pasta Primavera!! The lemon cream sauce was the hit! I am single so I used about half the veggies and pasta but made the cream sauce as shown… omg. How wonderful alone but with some chicken or shrimp. Move over Food Network!! Seriously !!!!

  8. 5 stars
    This was really delicious. I used fresh bagged peas (microwaved for one minute only). They popped in our mouths perfectly. I also used farfalle pasta. So good. Thank you!

  9. 5 stars
    Hubby’s out of town and I had to cook. Looking at a fridge full of veggies, I thought Pasta Primavera! I’m a little rusty at cooking, as he is our “Chef”. So, a quick google and I found this wonderful recipe. I used what I had on hand, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, red onion, carrots and garbanzo beans. The sauce is what sent me back for seconds! Absolutely delicious. Who knows, this may even get me to cook dinner once in awhile. Hubby will be totally shocked!!!

  10. 5 stars
    We loved it! Fresh tastes from our bountiful garden made this dish sing. I was a little heavy handed with my herbs and garden tomatoes. This recipe is a definite keeper!

  11. Can it be doubled and served to guest the next day … will it be as good … I know I will love it …thanks

  12. I have made this pasta once and everyone ( and myself ) LOVED it. I want to make it again for a lunch gathering of 15 guests. I want to know if it can be prepared ahead and how to re heat to keep it moist and vegetables crisp. Any suggestions for preparing one day prior and how to re heat would be appreciated.

  13. 5 stars
    Thanks for this great recipe- so versatile as practically any veggies can be used! but do not skip the reduction and basil and lemon – make the dish– I decided to add the tomatoes and basil in step 3 so they would be slightly cooked/softened
    Just delicious!

  14. 5 stars
    Very good outcome here. Delicious. Quick question regarding the cream. What are your thoughts in simply excluding it? I often just do a simple garlic and oil for my primevera in order to make it a bit healthier. Could I simply just add more broth?

    1. Glad you liked it. If you don’t want a cream sauce, you can lighten it up with just garlic and oil. Maybe add in more herbs. I wouldn’t do too much broth because you don’t want it soupy.

  15. 5 stars
    This is a very delicious recipe , I highly recommend it! My whole family absolutely loved it. The only thing I added was fresh mushrooms. Thank you for another great recipe!

  16. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this for a long time but wasn’t sure of the name…..I do roast my vegetables instead of boiling them…so much flavor. Because of that it may not be primavera, not sure but its very tasty

  17. 5 stars
    5 star recipes! Delicious. Easy to follow instructions. Will definitely make again. My family loved it!

  18. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!!! I opted for pasta water instead of cream to keep it a little lighter, but otherwise kept it exactly the same. It’s fresh, lemony, and bright. Love it, and will totally make again. (if anyone wants to skip the cream, just replace with pasta water, and add the water into the saucepan when it calls for cream).

  19. 5 stars
    Family favorite- looks beautiful and tastes great- excellent dish for company or large groups as well.

  20. 5 stars
    Made this recipe three times now, and I love it! The lemon and cream are light but go so well together. I usually cook the veggies a bit longer than in the recipe, but that probably has more to do with my stove.

  21. 4 stars
    This was really really good…flavor profile was fantastic. I used fresh sugar snap peas and it worked great. Also had a poblano in the refrigerator and that added a great kick. Be careful setting veggies and/or pasta aside because they will continue to cook…my fault. I will make it again with a couple of execution adjustments.

  22. Recently, I have been comparing online recipes for Pasta Primavera and chose yours. I must say that I will look no further. It was delicious! I brought it to my office and shared with a couple of my co-workers and they loved it! I will be trying more of your recipes.
    Thank you!

  23. 5 stars
    This was very good. I didn’t have basil, so I skipped it. I used snap peas, cut in thirds, instead of frozen peas. Red pepper instead of yellow. My mom, who doesn’t like vegetables, said it was very good.

  24. Does “zest of 1 lemon” mean I shave down the entire peel of a lemon? I’m a novice cook so I wasn’t sure… it seems like that’d be a lot?

    1. Yes, use a microplane to shave off the zest from the lemon. It gives the dish the lemon flavor!

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