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Pasta Primavera

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Calories: 684
homemade pasta primavera in a bowl made with zucchini, tomatoes, carrots and basil

Pasta primavera, darling of the ‘70s, is worthy of a revisit! Jam-packed with vegetables, and enough butter to keep us interested, it strikes a perfect balance between healthy-ish and hedonistic.

Wait—Exactly What Is Pasta Primavera?

“Primavera” means spring in Italian, but the Italian-sounding dish is, in fact, not from Italy at all—it’s entirely American. Though it’s difficult to trace its exact provenance, pasta primavera rose to popularity when it appeared on the menu at New York’s storied Le Cirque restaurant in the ‘70s. It became one of the most buzzy dishes in the city at the time, and quickly trickled down to restaurants—and kitchen tables—across the country. The name is a reference to the huge variety of veggies that define the dish, and is perhaps supposed to imply that the pasta celebrates the arrival of spring. Whatever inspired its creation, we’re just glad it exists.

ingredients for pasta primavera carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, butter, shallots, basil and sun dried tomatoes
shallot and carrot cooked in a pan
zucchini and summer squash cooked in a pan
butter, parmesan, whole milk, dried basil, garlic powder in a pan for pasta primavera sauce

Our Favorite Creamy Pasta Primavera Ingredients

Pasta primavera sauce is a little creamy, and a lot vegetable-y and we adore it. Rather than spring produce, we’ve jumped right ahead and loaded our pasta primavera recipe with summer vegetables! You know what we’re talking about right? Summer squash, cherry tomatoes and zucchini—the kind of veggies that we’ll have a near-problematic bounty of in the garden when August rolls around. They’re inexpensive and they make for a colorful primavera sauce that sings with just a hint of vegetal sweetness. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this easy pasta primavera:

  • Pasta

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Shallot

  • Carrot

  • Zucchini

  • Summer squash

  • Butter

  • Parmesan cheese

  • Whole milk

  • Basil, fresh and dried

  • Garlic powder

  • Sun dried tomatoes

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Red pepper flakes

shallots, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes in a parmesan cream sauce added to a skillet
shallots, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes cooked in a parmesan sauce in a skillet
shallots, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes cooked in a parmesan sauce in a skillet with pasta
shallots, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes cooked in a parmesan sauce in a skillet tossed with pasta

How to Make Pasta Primavera

  1. Get the pasta water started, and while the pasta boils, make the primavera sauce!

  2. Sauté the shallots and carrots. Set them aside and sauté the zucchini and squash. We’re having you cook them separately so that each vegetable is cooked to perfection!

  3. Time to make the creamy primavera sauce. You’ll whisk together butter, cheese, milk, dried basil, garlic powder, pepper and salt over low heat until it’s creamy and smooth.

  4. Add sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, then add the pasta and toss to coat.

  5. Add the sautéed squash, carrots and shallots back to the pan

homemade pasta primavera in a skillet with a wooden spoon
homemade pasta primavera with zucchini, carrots, tomatoes in a creamy parmesan sauce

What to Serve With Pasta Primavera

While pasta primavera is a meal that stands easily on its own as a one-pot meal, you can round it out into a classic, yummy feast by adding a few sides and an irresistible dessert. We’d serve this pasta primavera with:

Tools You’ll Need:

a plate with pasta primavera made with vegetables and parmesan cheese sauce
homemade pasta primavera on a plate

A Quick, Easy Vegetarian Dinner

Creamy and satisfying, pasta primavera is one of our very faves. We hope you love this recipe, too! When you make it, let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Pasta Primavera

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Calories: 684

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 tsp Sea salt
  • 12 oz Pasta of your choice (3/4 of a bag or box of pasta)
  • 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 Large carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips (or 1 cup pre cut: julienned, matchstick or shredded)
  • 1 Medium zucchini 3/4-inch slices then cut to create a half circle
  • 1 Medium yellow summer squash, 3/4 inch slices then cut to create a half circle
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3/4 cup Freshly grated parmesan cheese, about 2.5 oz
  • 1/2 cup Whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 1 tsp Dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Cherry tomatoes, halved, about 16
  • Fresh basil or flat leaf parsley, chopped, optional
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving, optional

Method

  1. Fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions, about 8-12 minutes, drain.
  2. While the water is heating up, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet, set over medium high heat. Add the shallots and carrots stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan onto a plate. Add remaining olive oil to the pan, swirl to coat and add the zucchini and squash in a single layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove the zucchini onto the plate with the carrots and shallots.
  3. Add the butter to the pan. When it begins to bubble, about 2 minutes, add the cheese, milk, dried basil, garlic powder, pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk until combined and smooth. Note: if you are using pre-grated parmesan the sauce might not get completely smooth and will result in a more grainy sauce, but will still taste lovely.
  4. Add in the sun dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes and toss until warmed through.
  5. Drain the pasta, then immediately add it to the sauce along with carrot and zucchini mixture and toss to coat. Add a splash more milk if the sauce is too thick or a sprinkle of extra parm if the sauce is too thin. Serve with fresh basil or flat leaf parsley and crushed red pepper flakes if desired.