Pasta Primavera is a healthy vegetable pasta recipe that is loaded with roasted asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers and then tossed in a lemon garlic butter sauce. This recipe is a simple to make dinner that can easily be made gluten-free and vegan.
Pasta Primavera – Full of Vegetables!
As the warmer Spring and Summer months are upon us, the grocery stores and backyard gardens start to burst with TONS of fresh summer vegetables.
And what better way to use up all of those veggies than to roast them up in the oven and toss them together with a bunch of pasta and some lemon butter garlic sauce!
If you have never had Pasta Primavera, you are in for a REAL treat. It’s a super easy way to use up any vegetables you happen to have on hand while still getting to enjoy a filling dish.
What is it?
Pasta Primavera is an American dish made from pasta, fresh Spring and Summer vegetables, and a light lemon or butter sauce.
This dish was invented in the 1970s and can be found at many popular Italian restaurants, such as Olive Garden. Or, you can make your own version at home!
While there may initially seem like a lot of ingredients in this recipe, many of them can be substituted for whatever you happen to have on hand.
- Pasta – While linguine or spaghetti can be used, I tend to prefer either a penne, bow-tie, or fusilli.
- Squash – Zucchini and yellow squash are both used in this recipe, but you can choose to use just one or the other.
- Bell Peppers – Feel free to select whatever color of bell pepper you happen to have on hand.
- Asparagus – When cut into bite-sized pieces this bright green vegetable gives this dish a wonderful crunch.
- Italian Seasoning – Using this blend is the easiest way to give your recipe a delicious Italian flavor with a few common dried herbs.
- Olive Oil – A good quality olive oil will impart a remarkable flavor in this vegetable pasta recipe.
- Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce – Read more below about how to make this easy sauce.
- Parmesan Cheese – You can also use a vegan Parmesan cheese if you are avoiding dairy or animal products.
- Basil – Fresh basil really gives this dish a bright flavor!
How to Make
There are three main components to this recipe:
- Roasted Vegetables:
- Toss all of the vegetables together with a bit of olive oil, Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper.
- Lay vegetables on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes in a 425 degree oven.
- Cook according to package directions.
- Reserve ½-cup of pasta water to add to the sauce.
- Lemon Butter Garlic Sauce:
- Whisk together butter, lemon, and crushed garlic for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Add pasta, reserved pasta water, and roasted vegetables. Toss until well coated.
- Add chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, and salt to taste. Enjoy!
Some pasta primavera recipes call for steaming or sautéing the vegetables. However, I find that roasting the vegetables gives them a subtle sweetness and an incredible texture.
A Few Tips when Roasting the Vegetables:
- Do not add too much oil. This will result in soggy vegetables instead of crisp.
- Make sure you have a large enough baking sheet. You want the vegetables to be in a single layer.
- Only substitute vegetables with others that cook at a similar rate. You do not want to add vegetables that take a long time to cook (i.e. potatoes, beets, etc.)
Lemon Butter Garlic Sauce
Lemon, butter, and fresh garlic cloves are the primary ingredients in this sauce. (This easy sauce was a spin-off of this Homemade Garlic Butter.)
It’s amazing what this combination of flavors will do to a pasta dish! And then you add in a bit of fresh basil and voila! You have one of the BEST and EASIEST sauces you’ve ever made.
How to Make:
- Add butter, lemon juice and zest, and crushed garlic cloves to a medium-sized pot.
- Learn how to zest a lemon 5 different ways!
- Whisk ingredients over medium-low heat or until garlic becomes slightly browned.
- Toss sauce with pasta, fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese. Add additional reserved pasta water until desired sauce consistency is reached.
- Add salt and black pepper, to taste. Enjoy!
To make this recipe vegan and vegetarian you will need to use a vegan butter substitute, such as the one by Earth Balance.
Best Gluten-Free Pasta Brands
No pasta dish would be complete without… pasta!!
Whenever cooking at home I always tend to grab a gluten-free version instead of the gluten-filled kind. Honestly, I think they taste super similar to regular pasta but are made with slightly healthier ingredients (brown rice, chickpeas, quinoa, etc.)
Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free brands for this recipe:
- Barilla Penne (made from corn and rice)
- Ancient Elbow Harvest (made from quinoa and some corn)
- Jovial Fusilli (made from brown rice
Storing and Reheating
To be honest, this recipe tastes the absolute best when it is freshly made.
However, you can always store it in the refrigerator and then heat it up on the stovetop or in the microwave when ready to enjoy the leftovers.
Just make sure you add a touch of water when reheating to give the pasta a softer texture.
Cook’s Tip: Gluten-free pastas do tend to break down more quickly than gluten-filled pastas when reheated. Stay away from the corn pastas to avoid this if you know you would like to enjoy some as leftovers.
Pasta Primavera with Lemon Garlic Butter
Pasta Primavera is a healthy vegetable pasta recipe that is loaded with roasted asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers and then tossed in a lemon garlic butter sauce.
- 1 lb. pasta* penne, gluten-free
- 1 large zucchini squash halved and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 1 large yellow squash halved and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 2 bell peppers thinly sliced and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 red onion thinly sliced and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 lb. asparagus ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce
- 4 Tbsp. butter* or can use vegan butter
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- ¼ - ½ cup reserved pasta water
- ¼ cup basil finely chopped
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese*
- 1 tsp. salt to taste
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
Cook pasta according to package directions and reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Drain the remaining water.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Toss zucchini, squash, peppers, onion, and asparagus in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings.
Place vegetables on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce:
In the same pot that the pasta was cooked in add butter, lemon juice and zest, and crushed garlic. Saute over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes or until garlic is slightly browned.
Add cooked pasta, 1/4 cup reserved pasta water, and vegetables. Toss until pasta is well coated in sauce.
Add chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt, to taste. Toss until well combined.
Serve pasta primavera with additional Parmesan cheese and basil. Enjoy!