Pasta Primavera

By Maria Lichty

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Quick Summary

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

Pasta Primavera with creamy lemon sauce in large serving bowl.

Pasta nights are always good nights. A few of our favorites include: Spaghetti Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, Baked Ziti, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and 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!

I love making this pasta during the spring and summer months because it is made with lots of vegetables, a delightful 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 in bowls with fresh herbs and crushed red pepper flakes.

What Pasta Should I Use to Make Pasta Primavera?

Rumor has it the original 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!

broccoli, asparagus, yellow bell peppers, and zucchini sautéing in skillet to make pasta primavera.

What Vegetables Are In Pasta Primavera?

Primavera means spring, so this pasta dish 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
  • tomatoes

Mushrooms, yellow squash, artichoke hearts, carrots, spinach, and kale would also be fantastic. You really can’t go wrong, bring on the veggies!

Lemon Cream Sauce

The lemon cream sauce is DIVINE! 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

This simple pasta recipe is perfect for weeknights, entertaining, or even lunch!

  • Prep the Veggies! 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.
  • Cook the Pasta! 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.
  • Cook the Veggies! 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.
  • Set the Veggies Aside! 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.
  • 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.
  • Combine! 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! Finish the dish with parsley (or basil), 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!

If you want to keep the recipe vegetarian, but add more protein, stir in chickpeas or white beans.

Classic Pasta Primavera Recipe

What to Serve with Pasta Primavera

This pretty pasta dish 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.

How to Store

Transfer leftover pasta to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove top.

More Pasta Recipes

Find all of our Pasta Recipes HERE!

Pasta Primavera in large bowl with fresh herbs and lemon wedges.
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Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera-this classic pasta dish is made with a mixture of colorful vegetables and a simple lemon Parmesan cream sauce. It is the perfect pasta recipe for spring and summer!
4.60 from 214 votes

Equipment

Ingredients
  

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.

Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

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, pasta primavera, vegetarian

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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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4.60 from 214 votes (148 ratings without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious! It even got my notoriously picky children to eat all of their vegetables. Due to my husband’s allergies I made the asparagus separately and skipped the grape tomatoes opting for the sun dried version. I added those to everyone else’s pasta after it was plated and it was so good. I will definitely be making this again.

  2. 5 stars
    Really delicious and flavorful! I didn’t add that last bit of lemon juice as we found it lemony enough. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I love this pasta primavera recipe. The lemon cream sauce is perfect! I add whatever veggies I’m craving, like fresh corn for a bit of sweetness and mushrooms sautéed in butter. This makes a huge pot of pasta, but I eat leftovers until it’s gone. It’s fabulous!

    1. Me and my husband loved this. It has all the flavors of spring any time of the year. Will put this on regular rotation

  4. 5 stars
    I loved this recipe! Comes together quickly after prep, flavorful, and loaded with veggies. We topped ours with grilled shrimp. Will definitely make again!

  5. This was great! Loved all the veggies. I did fry 2 sliced chicken breasts as we eat protein with every meal. Skipped the Parmesan cheese. Would definitely make again.

  6. 5 stars
    SO flavorful and a great way to get your veggies in. I’ve never liked pasta primavera as I always associated it with blah wedding food, but this one is so flavorful. It was a hit with the only family, even my little one, and is a great way to enjoy all of the spring produce!

  7. 5 stars
    Made for dinner with the veggies I had on hand – asparagus, onions, and mushrooms. Veggies turned out perfect. Delicious lemon cream sauce. Very pleased with how it turned out! Will make again.

  8. 5 stars
    Absolutely loved this recipe! I can’t have dairy, so I used cashew cream and vegan parmesan, and it turned out awesome! I also added ground turkey and banza pasta to add more protein. Already recommended it to others and will be making again!

  9. Can I make 1.5-2 times the sauce and and chicken? I plan on marinating chicken in a lemon herb vinaigrette, grilling it, slicing it, and finally tossing it in with the pasta.

  10. I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it’s always a hit. Due to recent dairy allergies, I tried it using plant-based butter, cream, and parmesan and it was just as good! The lemon juice really adds a nice flavor and we like using whatever vegetables we have ready in the garden. Thank you for another delicious recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    Great recipe! My only complaint is the prep time was WAY MORE than 20 minutes. #justsayin I will definitely chop as much as I can the day/night before next time. I added red onion and red and orange pepper, and I’m not a huge fan of asparagus so I omitted it, but my combo was delicious. I love flexibility in a recipe. Used my fresh basil from my garden. It was delicious. Well worth the effort!

  12. 5 stars
    We love this recipe. Today, we are trying it with spaghetti squash. It’s a total experiment, but no matter what, it will taste great!

  13. 5 stars
    I’ve made this pasta quite a bit. I like a lighter pasta so I’ve used bow tie but I love pappardelle too. The lemon cream sausage is light and delicious. This recipe is on regular rotation!

  14. 5 stars
    Oh, my gosh. This was so yummy. I’ve tried to make pasta primavera before and it always tasted kind of like fettuccini alfredo with veggies. This recipe is just what I was looking for. I made 1 1/2 times the sauce, which I thought was perfect. Strangely, my grocery store had no cherry tomatoes today, so I used sun dried tomatoes as someone else suggested. They were so good, I think I’ll do it next time too. I also threw in some salad shrimp which my husband and I really liked.

  15. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Easy to sub in different vegetables and the sauce was delicious (just enough lemon without being overwhelming). I added chicken sausage and left out the zucchini. Also used just a touch more broth and cream to make sure it wasn’t dry. Came out perfect! Will definitely be making again.

  16. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I halved the recipe since it’s just the 2 of us. I left out the broccoli since my husband is not a fan. I had 2 heaping cups of the rest of the veggies and that was a good ratio to pasta. I also used white wine instead of veggie broth because, well, it’s wine (lol!) and I knew we’d finish the bottle in a day of so, but probably not an open box of broth. The lemon sauce is perfect. Really great recipe, glad I found it and I will definitely make this again!

  17. 5 stars
    I made this exactly as written & it was amazing. The lemon cream sauce really makes it special. It’s a beautiful looking meal, with all of the colors. Great idea for dinner party.

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