This pasta primavera recipe is bursting with fresh veggies and a creamy Parmesan sauce! It’s a veggie-packed dinner that pleases everyone.

Pasta Primavera

Looking for a vegetarian pasta to impress? Try Pasta Primavera, the Italian-sounding American dish from the 1970’s that’s here to liven up your mealtimes! There are many ways to make a primavera, so here’s our spin. Tender pasta is mixed with spring vegetables like asparagus, broccolini, peas and carrots, then tossed with a creamy, luxurious Parmesan sauce. You won’t want the bowl to end!

The story behind pasta primavera

Pasta Primavera is an American pasta dish featuring fresh vegetables invented in the 1970’s. The dish was created by a New York chef named Sirio Maccioni at the home of an Italian businessman in Nova Scotia of all places. The dish mixed butter, cream, cheese, pasta and fresh vegetables, and went on to become popular all over the world. While it doesn’t sound like a revolutionary combination to our modern ears, it was the first of its kind.

Pasta Primavera

What’s in this pasta primavera recipe?

Since then, Pasta Primavera has popped up on restaurant menus across the globe, popularly at Italian American chains like Olive Garden. There’s really no “correct” way to make this dish: no specifications on the exact sauce or the type of vegetables. Primavera means spring in Italian, so often you’ll see it with spring vegetables like asparagus and carrot. But just as many spins use summer vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes: so there’s a lot of variation!

In our opinion, a good Pasta Primavera should feature spring vegetables just like the title indicates, so that’s what we’ve used here. The veggies are accessorized with a creamy Parmesan sauce that makes everything taste irresistible. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Pasta: any shape! we like tortelli (shown), but any short or long shape works
  • Olive oil
  • Baby bella mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Leek: leek is a uniquely tasty spring vegetable; substitute shallot if you can’t find it
  • Broccolini: we love the elegant shape of broccolini here! You can substitute broccoli
  • Peas
  • Carrot
  • For the sauce: butter, garlic, flour, milk and Parmesan cheese

The basic idea? Cook the pasta, saute the veggies, make a quick cream sauce and mix it all together. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Tips for cooking pasta to al dente

When it comes to any pasta dish, here’s the key: cook the pasta to the perfect al dente. Al dente means “to the bite” in Italian: pasta that’s tender with a firm center. Overcooked pasta turns out rubbery and unappetizing. Interestingly, it also has less nutrients and makes you less full. Here are some tips on how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Set your timer a few minutes before the package instructions indicate. The timing on many pasta packages makes for overcooked pasta. Start taste testing the pasta a few minutes before the package says to.
  • Taste test and look for small white fleck at the core. You want to catch it right when there’s a small white fleck at the core, or just when it disappears.
Pasta Primavera

Making the pasta primavera sauce

A few tips on the pasta primavera sauce: the sauce is a quick Parmesan sauce made with a roux. A “roux” is flour and butter cooked together (usually equal parts) that’s sed to thicken sauces. The cooking does go quickly, so you’ll want to understand the basic idea before you start.

  • Measure out the ingredients first, and don’t leave the stove. The cooking process goes so fast, you’ll want to have everything measured in advance.
  • Melt butter and saute the grated garlic 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook: you don’t want it to brown!
  • Add flour and whisk constantly. Whisk constantly and cook just until it’s a golden color; be careful not to overcook.
  • Whisk in the milk gradually. Add a splash of milk and whisk constantly, then keep adding a few splashes at a time until the sauce is smooth. Simmer for several minutes, and the roux will thicken the sauce! It may feel like it won’t thicken, but just wait: it will come together in about 5 minutes.

Serving pasta primavera

This pasta primavera recipe takes a little over 30 minutes to make, but it’s pretty hands on: you don’t have a lot of waiting time to prep other items. So to make it into a meal, you’ll want some quick and simple sides. You can also add cooked protein to make the dish more filling. Here are a few ideas:

Pasta Primavera

More pasta recipes

Love pasta at mealtime? Here are a few that will make dinnertime delicious:

This pasta primavera recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan and plant-based, substitute 1 ½ cups Vegan Alfredo Sauce for the sauce ingredients. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.


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This pasta primavera recipe is bursting with fresh veggies and a creamy Parmesan sauce! It’s a veggie-packed dinner that pleases everyone.

  • 8 ounces pasta (tortelli is shown)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch (1 pound) asparagus, tough ends removed, sliced in half and cut into small pieces
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced into half moons and washed (or 1 large shallot, thinly sliced)
  • 1 bunch broccolini (or 1 crown broccoli), cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed under warm water
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 small garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups 2% milk
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish

  1. Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente (taste testing a minute or two before the package instructions indicate). Drain and toss the pasta with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Meanwhile, prep the vegetables as noted above. In a dutch oven or large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Cook mushrooms for 4 minutes, until starting to brown. Add asparagus, leeks, broccolini, carrots and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and cook additional 4 to 5 minutes until asparagus is tender and bright green. Add peas and continue cooking until peas are bright green, about 1 minute.
  3. In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the grated garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant but not browned. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute to 90 seconds, until bubbly and golden. Add a splash of milk and whisk it in: the sauce will instantly turn chunky. Constantly whisking, continue to add splashes of milk and whisk them in until the entire quantity is incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Reduce the heat and whisk until the sauce thickens and no longer tastes like raw flour, about 5 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon kosher salt and the Parmesan cheese.
  4. Drain the pasta, then add it to the skillet with the veggies and stir in the sauce. Taste and add the additional ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Serve warm, garnished with additional Parmesan cheese. Leftovers store well refrigerated.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Pasta primavera, pasta primavera recipe


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