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 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.
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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!
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:
- bell pepper
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.
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.
- Garlic Bread or Caprese Garlic Bread
- Parker House Rolls
- Simple Kale Salad, Butter Lettuce Salad, Simple Arugula Salad, or Easy Green Salad
- Lemon Butter Chicken
- Easy Skillet Chicken Thighs
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
- Pasta Pomodoro
- Lemon Spaghetti
- Broccoli Pasta
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Sheet Pan Pasta Bake
- Easy Pasta Salad
Find all of our Pasta Recipes HERE!
- 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
- 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.
Have you tried this recipe?
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