Pasta Primavera

Published October 20, 2018. Updated April 6, 2020

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Pasta Primavera isn’t just for spring and summer, this is a veggie packed pasta dish that’s perfect year round! It has such a satisfying flavor and it’s versatile recipe so you can add different kinds of vegetables you might already have on hand.

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Pasta Primavera

What is Pasta Primavera?

Pasta primavera is a simple dish made with pasta and fresh vegetables. Many people think it’s an Italian dish but it’s actually an American dish which was created by chef Sirio Maccioni and two assisting chefs (the original used cream cheese).

It was first served at a restaurant in New York City then a recipe was published a few years later in New York Times helping bring the dish to fame.

Things you’ll love about this Pasta Primavera:

  • It’s a great way to add a lot of veggies into your meal.
  • It’s a smart way to use up all those veggies in the fridge about to go bad.
  • This is very filling and has such a satisfying flavor.
  • It’s a good way to get kids to eat vegetables.
  • There is great visual appeal going on, doesn’t food taste better when it looks enticing and colorful?
  • And it makes a nice main dish for dinner or works well as a side dish for parties too (in which you’ll get more servings).

Pasta Primavera Video

And of course, it’s super tasty! I love that garlic, parmigiano and lemon flavor you get over every single bite.

Have you heard of the Mediterranean diet? And did you know pasta is part of this healthy way of eating inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of the Mediterranean region?

It incorporates a variety of quality food groups that should be eaten often in reasonable quantities, including pasta.

Pasta Primavera ingredients shown here penne olive oil red onion carrots broccoli bell pepper squash zucchini garlic tomatoes parmesan lemon italian seasoning

What Ingredients do I Need for Pasta Primavera?

  • Penne pasta
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh veggies including red onion, carrot, broccoli, bell pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes and garlic
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmigiano, divided

How to Make Pasta Primavera

This recipe is actually really easy to make. It’s a bit of chopping so the prep takes some time but it cooks quickly. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Boil the Pasta

First you’ll bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, then cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.

Pasta primavera vegetables shown here in skillet

Step 2: Sauté Vegetables

While the pasta is boiling cook the veggies so they will finish at the same time as the pasta.

To do so, heat olive oil in a 12-inch (and deep) skillet over medium-high heat. Add red onion and carrot and sauté 2 minutes.

Add broccoli and bell pepper then sauté 2 minutes. Add squash and zucchini then sauté 2 – 3 minutes or until veggies have nearly softened.

Add garlic tomatoes, and Italian seasoning and sauté 2 minutes longer.

Pasta Primavera shown here in a serving bowl sitting on a marble surface

Step 3: Toss Pasta and Veggies Together with Seasonings

Pour veggies into now empty pasta pot or a serving bowl, add drained pasta, drizzle in lemon juice, season with a little more salt as needed and toss while adding in pasta water to loosen as desired.

Toss in 1/4 cup parmigiano and parsley then serve with remaining parmesan on top.

Can I Use Other Vegetables?

This is a versatile recipe and you can use different kinds of veggies based on what you have on hand.

Shelled peas, asparagus, eggplant, cauliflower, spinach, or green beans are other good choices. I’m thinking I’d also love an autumn version with different fall veggies.

Pasta Primavera with colorful vegetables in a serving bowl

What’s the Best Type of Pasta to Use?

I usually use Penne pasta because I almost always have some on hand but any medium pasta will work. Here’s a list of great options:

  • Farfelle (bowties)
  • Fusili
  • Ziti
  • Mastacoli
  • Gemelli
  • Penne

Can I Add Chicken or Shrimp to This Recipe?

Yes. If you are looking to add a protein to this recipe, grilled chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken, or sautéed shrimp are great options.

Pasta Primavera

Tips for the Best Pasta Primavera

  • Careful not to over-cook pasta, always a key to any pasta dish.
  • Season pasta cooking water with salt, its one of the only ways to boost flavor to pasta while it cooks.
  • Cook vegetables to a tender faintly crisp texture, not soft and mushy.
  • Don’t leave out the bell pepper and onion, they both add great flavor here.
  • Add plenty of parmesan! You don’t need to stop at 1/2 cup, I’d say that’s just the minimal amount.

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Pasta Primavera
4.95 from 79 votes

Pasta Primavera

A hearty, veggie packed pasta dish that's perfect for serving year round! It has so much fresh flavor, it's a great way to use up those vegetables in the fridge, plus it's a bright and colorful dish so it helps get the kids to eat their vegetables.
Servings: 5
Prep19 minutes
Cook11 minutes
Ready in: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook penne pasta in salted water according to package directions, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.
  • Meanwhile heat olive oil in a 12-inch (and deep) skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add red onion and carrot and saute 2 minutes.
  • Add broccoli and bell pepper then saute 2 minutes.
  • Add squash and zucchini then saute 2 - 3 minutes or until veggies have nearly softened. 
  • Add garlic, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning and saute 2 minutes longer.
  • Pour veggies into now empty pasta pot or a serving bowl, add drained pasta, drizzle in lemon juice, season with a little more salt as needed and toss while adding in pasta water to loosen as desired.
  • Toss in 1/4 cup parmesan and parsley then serve with remaining parmesan on top.

Notes

  • *If you want it cheesier use 1 cup parmesan.
Nutrition Facts
Pasta Primavera
Amount Per Serving
Calories 415 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 6mg2%
Sodium 198mg9%
Potassium 844mg24%
Carbohydrates 57g19%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 4600IU92%
Vitamin C 112.2mg136%
Calcium 197mg20%
Iron 2.3mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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168 Comments

  • Patty B

    Very good plus quick and easy. I added mushrooms and left out the broccoli.

  • Stacy

    SO good! We added leftover smoked brisket and it was a great hearty meal with lots of veggies! My family of 6 loved it!

  • Heather

    I needed to do something with all the left over veggies from my crudites platter. This was perfect. Super easy and tasty.

  • Janice Stoner

    This is absolutely delicious. I like the fact the vegetables are sautéed which builds flavor and use pasta water instead of salad dressing. I added black olives and used feta instead of parmigiana this time but wow, just wow.

  • Beth

    This recipe was really good. I suggest zesting your lemon for some extra flavor. I added extra garlic too, but my cloves are always small. As stated, it’s a great way to use up random leftover veggies in your fridge. I added a can of white beans at the end too for some vegetarian protein.

    P.S. I found that heating the beans separately was useful for me, as that way I barely had to stir them into the other ingredients. Whenever I add canned beans at the end of a recipe they tend to fall apart as I stir them, creating an unappetizing textural affect, so if anyone else has the same problem, I suggest this trick.

  • Gigi1956

    Loved this! I froze most of it for a dinner next week. Could you please advise what I could use to freshen it up – it will need some sort of liquid or olive oil when reheating?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      You can add some broth and a little olive oil when reheating if it’s on the dry side. I’m so happy you loved it!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      They would but just won’t taste quite as good as fresh.

  • Donna Matthews

    This recipe was delicious. The things I substituted because they were on hand were diced roma for grape tomatoes, bottled lemon juice, dried parsley and grated parmesian from a jar. My husband and I loved this.