Pasta Primavera is the perfect meal to welcome the spring with! Enjoy a colorful plate of penne pasta with all of your favorite garden vegetables. My kiddos call this Rainbow Veggie Pasta and it’s a very accurate description!
Easy Pasta Primavera
Whether it means going to your local farm stand or walking out into your own garden, you’re going to want to pick out some fresh vegetables to make this Pasta Primavera recipe. This is a springtime dinner or lunch at its absolute best! My kids call this dish Rainbow Veggie Pasta and it’s a stable around here!
Penne pasta is tossed in a simple olive oil and herb dressing, and carrots, tomatoes, and even squash, are added into the mix as well. Top it with some parmesan cheese, and it’s ready for the table! We like to serve it with a little garlic bread on the side, but it really doesn’t need much else!
P.S. Trying to figure out how to get picky eaters to eat vegetables? Mixing them in with pasta and olive oil might do the trick. 😉
What is Primavera Pasta?
Pasta primavera is an American dish that was invented in the 1970s. ‘Primavera’ is the Italian word for springtime, and it references all of the freshly-grown spring vegetables that are included in the meal. I used tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, and other veggies, but you can definitely substitute in some of your garden favorites.
What You’ll Need
You’ll need a good selection of spices and vegetables to put this pasta dish together. These are the ingredients I like to include in my version of pasta primavera:
- Pasta: I used penne, but other pasta can be used, too.
- Pasta Water: So that the pasta won’t be dry.
- Olive Oil: To toss the pasta in, with seasoning.
- Seasoning: I like to use salt, dried oregano, black pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil.
- Butter: You’ll need salted butter for this recipe.
- Vegetables: Carrots and a red bell pepper (both julienned – sliced into thin strips), red onion, broccoli florets (cut into 1-inch pieces), yellow squash (quartered and sliced), and grape tomatoes (cut in half).
- White Wine Vinegar: To add flavor while the vegetables sauté.
- Optional Garnishes: Shredded fresh parmesan cheese and chopped parsley make great garnishes.
How to Make Pasta Primavera
Pasta primavera is the one of my favorite quick springtime dinners to prepare. It will only take you 35 minutes tops, and it’s a great way to enjoy a bunch of flavorful but healthy vegetables!
Prepare the Pasta: Cook pasta according to the directions on the bag. Drain but save 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside. I like to ladle out 1 cup and put it into a separate container before I drain it.
Season and Toss Pasta: In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ teaspoon oregano. Toss the pasta with this oil mixture until evenly covered. Set pasta aside.
Sauté Vegetables: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the carrots and onions together until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the bell pepper and broccoli florets and cook for a few minutes or until barely softened, about 2-3 minutes.
Finish up the sauté by adding in the squash, tomatoes, white wine vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, salt, dried basil, and black pepper. Let cook all together for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Add Pasta: Stir in the penne pasta prepared earlier and ⅓ cup of the reserved pasta water to the mixture. Stir for a minute and then remove from heat.
Serve and Enjoy: Plate and garnish with optional parmesan cheese and parsley and enjoy!
Tips for Success
Looking for tips and tricks on how to get the best results with your pasta primavera? Here are some thoughts:
- Pasta Consistency: Depending on how “wet” you like your pasta, you can adjust the amount of pasta water to add into this dish. Start with ⅓ cup and add until it reaches your desired consistency. The pasta water makes all the difference! I found this pasta to be far too dry before adding in the water. Make sure that it is leftover pasta water and not plain water. The starch in the pasta water helped hold all of the ingredients together and resulted in a smooth texture. Regular water will wash off the ingredients.
- Use a Big Pan: You want to be able to fit the pasta and all of the vegetables together, which means you’ll need a fairly large skillet. Or you can combine everything in a large bowl after cooking if that’s easier for you.
- Don’t Forget to Salt the Pasta Water: This will ensure that you get flavorful pasta. Also make sure not to overcook the pasta, so that it’s not chewy or tough.
- Don’t Overcook the Vegetables: Stop when they are slightly crisp, before they become mushy or soft. This will give your dish great texture and color. However, if you prefer your veggies a little softer, by all means, cook them longer!
- Parmesan Cheese: Don’t forget that hearty sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan on top, it adds a ton to the dish!
Pasta primavera is a very customizable meal, so feel free to switch up the vegetables, pasta, and more:
- Pasta: You can use any other type of pasta if you don’t have penne pasta. I would recommend one that is similar in size and shape, but you honestly could use whatever you want for this. Pasta dishes are very versatile.
- Vegetables: Other possible add-ins could include zucchini, peas, asparagus, mushrooms, etc.
- Cheese: You can use another type of cheese, like mozzarella or even feta, but I would recommend a white cheese.
- Adding Meat: This is a veggie meal, but it absolutely has room for some delicious protein. Chicken is the freshest and easiest to add to this meal. Cut some chicken breast or thighs into 1 inch pieces, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme, and cook it in a sauté pan. Add it in at the very end. Or, cook up some Italian sausage, which doesn’t require any seasoning as it is already very salty. Other proteins will also work, including shrimp, but those are my two favorites for this meal.
Wondering what to serve with your pasta primavera? These are a couple of my go-to ideas:
- Bread: Any crusty bread will work, and if you’ve got the time, treat yourself to some garlic bread!
- Meat: You can turn this pasta primavera into a side dish, and serve it on the side of grilled chicken, baked chicken or pork chops.
- Salad: If you feel like you have enough vegetables, try a fruit salad instead.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Pasta primavera is best served fresh. Store leftover pasta in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To reheat, add the pasta and vegetables to a pan with a little bit of olive oil on medium-low heat, and cook until warm.
- 10 ounces of penne pasta (or 3 ½ cups)
- ⅓-½ cup pasta water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter
- 2 carrots, julienned
- ½ red onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional garnish
- Chopped Parsley, optional garnish
- Cook pasta according to the directions on the bag. Drain but save 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside. I like to ladle out 1 cup and put it into a separate container before I drain it.
- In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ teaspoon oregano.
- Toss the pasta with this oil mixture until evenly covered. Set pasta aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the carrots and onions together until softened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the bell pepper and broccoli florets and cook for a few minutes or until barely softened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Finish up the sauté by adding in the squash, tomatoes, white wine vinegar, garlic powder, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, dried basil, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Let cook all together for another 3 minutes.
- Stir in the penne pasta prepared earlier and ⅓ cup of the reserved pasta water to the mixture. Stir for a minute and then remove from heat.
- Plate and garnish with optional parmesan cheese and parsley and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 391Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 633mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 9g
More pasta recipes
On the lookout for more easy pasta recipes? Try these:
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Creamy Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Homemade Hamburger Helper
- Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Vegetable Ravioli Lasagna
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
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