Craving color? This spring Pasta Primavera is the rainbow of a recipe for you! Lightly creamy and packed with fresh vegetables, it’s a happy harbinger of the warm days ahead.
“Primavera” (pronounced “pree-muh-VERH-ah”) means “spring” in Italian.
“Pasta primavera” refers to a pasta made “spring style”: filled with spring vegetables.
Asparagus, peas, carrots, and broccoli are three popular spring vegetables used to make pasta primavera, but you can easily swap them with the season.
Here in Wisconsin where I live, asparagus is finally making its long-awaited appearance (bring on the Asparagus Soup!), so I have been cooking with it a lot.
You can certainly use zucchini for a summer pasta primavera, or for ultimate ease, a bag of frozen vegetables like in this Garlic Shrimp Pasta.
Creamy pasta primavera is my ideal recipe for this time of year, because it is light enough to feel warm-weather appropriate while remaining just comforting enough to see us through any lingering chilly nights.
History of Pasta Primavera
There is a great debate surrounding who invented pasta primavera. Multiple chefs from New York City all claim to be the original creators of the dish that we know today. Despite its Italian name, one of the chefs claims to have garnered his inspiration for the dish during a trip to Nova Scotia.
How to Make Pasta Primavera
This light and lovely pasta is filling enough to be a meatless main, though you can certainly add protein if you like.
- Try pasta primavera with shrimp (I love the idea of this Grilled Shrimp Seasoning) or chicken pasta primavera (Baked Chicken Breast or Grilled Chicken Breast are both perfect) if you please.
- Looking for another springtime pasta with protein? Try this Lemon Shrimp Pasta with Orzo and Asparagus.
- Whole Wheat Pasta. Pasta is the heart of this dish, so the quality matters! One of my #1 ways to make a recipe better for you with zero extra effort is to swap white grains for whole grain options. That means whole wheat pasta.
- Fresh Veggies. Pasta primavera is all about the veggies, and this recipe delivers! I used carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, and asparagus. The combination is colorful, nutritious, and delicious.
- Frozen Peas. An easy way to sneak in another veggie.
- Butter + Olive Oil. Sautéeing the veggies in butter and olive oil creates scrumptious flavor.
- Italian Seasoning. A one-stop shop of herbs and spices that gives this dish Italian flair.
- Parmesan. Salty, cheesy deliciousness. The Parmesan blends with the yogurt and pasta water to create the luscious sauce.
- Greek Yogurt. The secret to the rich and creamy pasta primavera sauce. Make sure to use whole milk Greek yogurt.
- Boil and drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Sauté the shallot in butter and oil.
- Add the carrots and bell peppers.
- Add the asparagus and spices. Stir in the garlic.
- Stir the pasta and peas into the vegetables. Add the Parmesan and yogurt, tossing to coat. Pour in the reserved pasta water as needed. DIG IN!
Pair your pasta primavera with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio.
- To Store. Refrigerate pasta in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze pasta in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. The sauce may separate a bit, but it should still taste delicious.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, chop all the vegetables. Refrigerate each one in a separate airtight storage container.
Hello, sunshine! We missed you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you’ve learned the magic of using pasta water, you won’t ever go back! During cooking, the pasta releases starch into the water. This starchy water then acts like a thickener for the sauce and helps it cling to the noodles. If your pasta sauce needs to be loosened, adding the pasta water does a nice job of thinning it without diluting flavor or making the sauce watery.
You can use any shape of noodle for pasta primavera, but a short, tube-style noodle such as penne is traditional. Here, I am using cavatappi, one of my favorite shapes.
- 6 ounces whole wheat cavatappi pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot chopped or ½ cup chopped spring onion
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into thin, 1/4-inch x 1-inch matchsticks
- 1 red bell pepper cored and cut into matchsticks
- 1 yellow bell pepper cored and cut into matchsticks
- 1 pound asparagus ends snapped and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning plus additional to taste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas no need to thaw
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese at room temperature, plus additional for serving
- 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt at room temperature (DO NOT use fat free or it will curdle)
- Chopped fresh parsley tarragon, or basil, for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes. RESERVE 1 CUP OF THE PASTA WATER, then drain.
- While the water comes to a boil, in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven (one large enough to hold the cooked pasta and vegetables), add the oil and butter. Once the butter has melted, add the shallot. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the carrots and bell pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add the asparagus, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes more. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds.
- As soon as the pasta is drained (remember to save its cooking liquid!!), add it immediately to the vegetables along with the peas. Stir to combine, then stir in the Parmesan and Greek yogurt. Toss to coat, adding the cooking liquid as needed to loosen the sauce. Enjoy immediately, topped with herbs and additional Parmesan.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate pasta in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze pasta in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. The sauce may separate a bit, but it should still taste delicious.
Join today and start saving your favorite recipes
Create an account to easily save your favorite recipes and access FREE meal plans.Sign Me Up