An easy Pasta Primavera is a light pasta recipe loaded with vegetables and tossed in a fresh lemon and garlic sauce. This vegetarian pasta dish is a great way to incorporate seasonal spring and summer veggies and it’s so satisfying.
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What is Pasta Primavera?
Because of its naming, many people think Pasta Primavera is an Italian dish when in fact it is a popular American pasta dish that was invented in the 1970s. It is made with pasta and lightly cooked fresh vegetables. Rather than using a creamy sauce, it’s tossed in light garlic and lemon sauce. The pasta is often called summer or spring pasta, it’s such a light dish and does truly feel like summer.
How to Make Pasta Primavera
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and cover to keep warm.
- Sautee vegetables in a large skillet or dutch oven until crisp-tender. Season to taste.
- Make it saucy – Add butter and garlic to the veggies and cook until fragrant.
- Combine – Add cooked pasta, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese to your veggie skillet and toss to combine.
- Protein – You can add meat to the pasta; shrimp and chicken would work great.
- Vegetables – you can change up the veggies depending on what is seasonal or what you have on hand. Broccoli, French green beans, snap peas, scallions or asparagus would all be great substitutes or add-ins.
- Pasta – you could change up the pasta for a different bite-sized pasta shape such as Cavatappi, ziti, fusilli, or your favorite variety.
- Sauce – If you are looking for a richer sauce, add Homemade Pesto or Alfredo Sauce to the dish.
Tips for the Best Pasta Primavera
- Cut the vegetables to even thickness so they have a uniform look and cook at the same rate (note: if using root vegetables such as carrots, cut those to finer julienne slices since they take longer to cook).
- Generously salt the water for cooking pasta. For 4 quarts, I add about 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp of fine sea salt.
- Cook pasta to al dente which means tender but slightly firm to the bite. The package instructions will usually result in perfectly cooked al-dente pasta.
- Cook veggies until crisp-tender. They will retain more flavor and will look more colorful and vibrant in the finished dish.
Serve pasta with
This pasta recipe is a meal in itself and doesn’t really need anything else as a vegetarian dinner. However, if you like a good side, here are some great options:
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Easy Garlic Bread Recipe
- Pan-Seared Steak
- Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
- Caesar Salad
- Storing Leftovers – Keep leftover pasta refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Reheating – To reheat, add to a skillet with a dash of olive oil and cook until warmed through.
- Freezing – We do not recommend freezing this dish because the veggies get mushy and dull when thawed.
More Pasta Recipes
Easy Pasta Primavera Recipe
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz penne pasta
- 1 bell pepper, any color, sliced into strips
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into rings
- 6 oz brown or white mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
- ¾ tsp fine sea salt, or to taste, plus more for boiling pasta
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to serve
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package instructions until al'dente or to your desired doneness, drain water and cover to keep warm.
- While the pasta cooks, cook the vegetables: place a large deep skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat and add oil. Add bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and red onion and saute tossing and stirring frequently until vegetables are crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the butter and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the pasta, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese to the skillet. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once pasta is heated through, remove from heat.
- Garnish with more freshly grated parmesan if desired and sprinkle on parsley.