Pasta Primavera

This pasta primavera recipe is light, fresh, and simple to make. Packed with colorful veggies, it's the perfect easy dinner for spring or summer night.

Pasta primavera

I love to make this pasta primavera recipe after a trip to the farmers market in early summer. I come home with bags full of produce. Some contain spring veggies like asparagus and peas that will only be available for a few more weeks. Others hold summer finds like zucchini, squash, and cherry tomatoes whose season is just starting. The moment when all these spring and summer vegetables collide is so brief that I feel like I have to celebrate it. So, I cook a pot of pasta, sauté the veggies, and toss them together to make this pasta primavera recipe.

Pasta primavera recipe ingredients

Pasta Primavera Recipe Ingredients

While pasta primavera means “spring pasta” in Italian, the dish itself is actually American. The story goes that it originated at the New York restaurant Le Cirque in the 1970s, and in the years following, it started popping up on Italian restaurant menus all over the US. The original version featured spaghetti and a rich butter and cream sauce, but these days, the name “pasta primavera” is given to all sorts of veggie pastas.

Here’s what I use in my take:

  • Pasta, of course! I like to use penne pasta because the noodles are a similar size to the chopped vegetables. It makes it easy to get a little of everything in each bite!
  • Garlic and red onion – For savory depth of flavor.
  • Yellow squash and zucchini – Feel free to use just one or the other if you can’t find both!
  • Asparagus – For complexity and crunch.
  • Cherry tomatoes – They become soft and bursty, lightly coating the pasta in their juices.
  • Peas – I often use thawed frozen peas, though if you happen to have fresh shell peas, you could totally blanch them and toss them in.
  • Pecorino cheese – It makes the pasta lightly creamy. Parmesan cheese would be great here too!
  • Fresh lemon juice – I love its bright flavor with all the fresh vegetables.
  • Red pepper flakes – They add a little heat.
  • Fresh basil and tarragon – They bring so much flavor to this simple pasta dish. Technically, the tarragon is optional, but if you can find it, I highly recommend using it. It really takes this recipe over the top!
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Hands using wooden spatula to stir vegetables in large skillet

How to Make Pasta Primavera

This pasta primavera has to be one of the simplest dinner recipes on Love & Lemons. It’s so easy to make! Here’s how it goes:

First, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain it when it’s just al dente. It’ll cook a little more with the veggies on the stove, so you want to be careful not to overcook it now. Toss the pasta with a drizzle of oil to prevent sticking.

Sautéed spring and summer vegetables in large skillet with wooden spatula

Next, sauté the veggies. I LOVE that all the vegetables cook in one pan in this recipe! Heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet, and toss in the garlic, onion, zucchini, squash, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes. It only takes a few minutes for the vegetables to soften.

Hand using wooden spatula to stir pasta primavera in large skillet

Then, add the pasta, peas, cheese, and lemon juice. Toss until the cheese melts down and coats the pasta in a lightly creamy sauce. Stir in the fresh herbs, and season to taste.

Finally, garnish with more basil, and serve!

Pasta primavera recipe in large skillet with cheese sprinkled on top

Pasta Primavera Serving Suggestions

This pasta primavera makes a fantastic meal on its own, though if you like, you could certainly pair it with a side dish or two. We love it with buttery slices of garlic bread and a side salad. Try serving it with any of these salad recipes:

Enjoy!

Pasta primavera recipe

More Favorite Pasta Recipes

If you love this pasta primavera recipe, try one of these fresh pasta recipes next:

Pasta Primavera

rate this recipe:
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Serves 4
Packed with seasonal veggies, this pasta primavera is a simple, fresh spring or summer dinner. I list the tarragon as optional, but I highly recommend using it to take this recipe over the top!

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • ¾ cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions, cooking until al dente. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, squash, zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, onion, salt, and several grinds of pepper and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the pasta, peas, cheese, lemon juice, and a pinch of red pepper flakes and toss to combine. Stir in the basil and tarragon, if using.
  • Season to taste, garnish with more basil, and serve.

9 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Jen
    07.09.2022

    Made this tonight for dinner, omitted the peas and added orange bell pepper. I think my pan was too crowded because it took the veggies over ten minutes to get tender -so next time I might split between two large pans so they can sauté and not steam. In any case, it was such a light and flavorful meal and our 9 year old ate it enthusiastically. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2022

      I’m glad she enjoyed it! I would try adding a little less of the squash or asparagus if you add in the pepper (or yes, cook in batches).

  2. Elle K
    06.16.2022

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and it’s absolutely delicious! Super fresh and light. My squash was kind of big so it made a lot, but I’ll enjoy the leftovers. Made mostly as written – just omitted the pecorino cheese and added a little vegan parmesan instead to make it dairy free. Would definitely make it again! Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.18.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Stephanie
    06.14.2022

    Are the basil and tarragon… Chopped? Whole? Thanks!! Excited to eat this in a few minutes😋

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.18.2022

      I add them whole or if your basil leaves are very large you can tear them.

  4. Pankaj Goyal
    06.14.2022

    I love the recipe and going to try this today.

  5. Pankaj Goyal
    06.14.2022

    I love pasta most and I hope I can make it this much delicious.

  6. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    06.13.2022

    thank you, great set of ingredients and may, if you don’t mind, try it with zucchini noodles!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.