Our creamy pasta Primavera recipe is a heavenly twist on the classic pasta dish with spring vegetables. Or perhaps a sinful version – you be the judge.
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Read on for useful tips and step-by-step pictures (1 min)
About This Pasta Primavera Recipe
We started making pasta Primavera in this manner a few years ago, after an extended trip to Germany where we literally went on a binge of Schinkennudeln (fried pasta with egg and ham).
We just couldn’t get enough of the perfectly textured short cut noodles but were craving veggies with our meal – hence the idea to adapt classic pasta Primavera to the method of treating al dente noodles to a brief but luxurious pan session with melted butter. The resulting superior taste and texture are simply to love.
Plus, the noodles are still very much receptive to a coating of thick pasta Primavera sauce (ours is simply heavy cream and Parmesan).
By the way – this is not a classic Italian recipe – late New York city restaurant Le Cirque chef Maccioni was the one who invented the original.
Ingredients to Gather
- Al dente bite pasta. Even though classic pasta Primavera can be prepared with any kind of noodle, for this version opt for short cut pasta such as penne, bow ties or spirals like we use here. Cook enough for 4 servings, according to the package instructions and once al dente, rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking and let it cool down.
- Butter & olive oil. Butter for the pasta and extra virgin olive oil for the vegetables and the cherry tomatoes.
- Vegetables. Ideally ones that are available in spring, but we like to select veggies that do not require the complication of par-boiling/blanching. To that end – zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, yellow or orange bell pepper, asparagus (spears only, reserve the stalks for another meal). If you like peas – add some in, they are classic for this dish. Thinly sliced mushrooms, carrots and red onion are a good twist.
- Cherry tomatoes. Warmed or blistered, they provide a burst of fresh sweetness to the dish.
- Heavy cream & Parmesan cheese. Together they create the luxurious sauce for the lightly crispened noodles.
- White wine (optional). To deglaze the vegetables and add an extra layer of flavor.
- Garlic, basil & seasonings. It’s pasta after all – must have garlic and basil and you can season to taste with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes.
- Large, deep frying pan or a flat Dutch oven/braiser/large pot. A non-stick coating is most helpful here and you want something with around 12 inch diameter that can contain both pasta and vegetables in the end. A small skillet is necessary for the cherry tomatoes – for best results handle them separately.
Before You Make This Pasta Dish…
This is one of these pasta recipes that comes together pretty fast once you begin the actual cooking and it is best to enjoy it as soon as you prepare it. You will make the process much more pleasant if you get organized and ready all the ingredients beforehand so once you get going you can finish in one easy session by the stove.
Do set the table in advance too, so that all you have to do once you prepare the pan fried pasta Primavera is set it down, family style, and let everyone help themselves – pronto:)
Make Pasta Primavera Step-by-Step
- Prep work. Perform the steps pictured above before you begin cooking:
- Boil the pasta until al dente or just a minute short of al dente. Heed the package instructions for how long. Then drain it, rinse it with cold water and leave it in a colander to cool down a bit.
- Cut your vegetables of choice and mince the garlic. (If you are using broccoli, artichokes or cauliflower steam or blanche them first. We’d rather keep things simple so we avoid using them.)
- In a small sauté pan toss cherry tomatoes with olive oil and some fresh basil leaves.
- Grate the Parmesan and combine it with the heavy cream.
- Cook the vegetables.
- For the chopped vegetables, heat a large deep pan, add the olive oil and briefly sauté the minced garlic. Then add the veggies and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for a couple of minutes, then deglaze with a bit of wine (optional) or water. As you wait for the liquid to reduce, it will also steam the veggies and make them tender. Remove from the pan temporarily and set aside.
- Heat the small skillet with the cherry tomatoes you preparedover medium-high heat. Once the skins begin to blister and split open, the tomatoes are done – set aside.
- Pan fry the pasta.
- In the same pan where you sauted the veggies melt butter. Add the al dente noodles and pan fry until they begin to turn golden and crispen up a bit. Stir frequently.
- Add the pasta Primavera sauce (cream and Parmesan mixture) and stir to make sure each noodle gets coated with some (#4 above).
- Assemble and garnish.
- Fold in the veggies.
- Add in the cherry tomatoes and gently scatter them around.
- Serve garnished with fresh basil and grated Parmesan.
Serving, Storing Leftovers and Reheating Pasta Primavera
Garlic bread served on the side of a bowl of this fabulous pasta will elevate both the pleasure you will experience and the carbohydrates you wil consume.
Allow leftovers to cool down and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
To reheat the pasta dish place it in a skilelt over medium-low heat and add a bit of chicken broth or simply water. As the pasta and veggies begin to warm up, stir a few times and the added liquid will help bring everything together.
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy
- 4 servings cooked, al dente short cut pasta, rinsed and drained (such as fusilli, gemelli, penne)*
- 3 tbsp butter (for pan frying the pasta)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch asparagus, tips only**
- 1 zucchini
- 1 bell pepper (orange or yellow)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup white wine OR water
- 8 oz cherry tomatoes
- handful of fresh basil leaves
PRIMAVERA SAUCE (OPTIONAL, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Make sure you have enough al dente cooked short cut pasta to serve four. You should rinse it with cold water once boiled, in order to stop the cooking, then allow it to cool down while you work on the rest of the prep.
Cut the vegetables in small pieces, mince the garlic.
In a small skillet add 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the cherry tomatoes (you can slice some or all in half), a pinch of salt and pepper and a few basil leaves; set them aside.
(If using) Make the Primavera sauce - combine the heavy cream and grated Parmesan and mix well.
MAKE THE PASTA PRIMAVERA
1. Heat a large, deep (preferably non-stick) pan over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and sauté the minced garlic until fragrant (40-50 seconds).
2. Add the asparagus tips, zucchini, and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper to taste and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Deglaze with the white wine or water and wait until it evaporates, then remove the veggies from the pan.
3. In the same pan melt all the butter. Add the cooked, drained pasta, stir to coat all noodles (if necessary, add a bit more butter). Pan fry for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently to expose all sides of the noodles, until they begin to take on a golden color.
4. While the pasta is enjoying the butter, on a smaller heating element (over medium-high) place the skillet with the tomatoes. As soon as they begin to blister and their skins burst, remove them from the heat.
5. Pour the Primavera sauce over the pasta and stir gently to coat all noodles. (Skip this step if not using).
5. Add the veggies to the pasta, fold in gently. Scatter the cherry tomatoes along with the skillet juices over the pasta. Remove from heat. Garnish with a couple of fresh basil leaves and grated Parmesan and serve immediately.
*cook the pasta in salted water as per the package instructions. Depending on the shape of the noodle, one serving of short pasta is typically about 1/2 cup dry, which works out to about 1 cup cooked.
**save the rest of the asparagus for another dish. Using the tips only allows you to skip blanching - they will cook perfectly.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 309mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g