Spring is in the air, but we still want pasta on our plates… without all the heavy sauces and maybe even with some fresh veggies thrown in. Since we are living our best lives (thanks to digestive enzymes) we knew it still had to have some type of cheese in the mix. Which is why we knew a simple pasta primavera could be the perfect start.
Our take on a springtime pasta primavera is a bright pasta dish that’s been boosted by a hint of lemon and can handle being served on its own or being loaded with seasonal veggies like a traditional primavera.
Make this quick and tasty recipe to celebrate the warmer weather coming our way.
What Exactly Is Pasta Primavera?
Pasta primavera is Alfredo’s lighter and brighter sibling. And, while we’re big fans of adding some protein to our plates, it is traditionally a vegetarian dish. The veggies you have probably seen in pasta primaveras of the past are peas, bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli.
This Recipe Is:
- Flexible: Pick your favorite veggies and/or protein to add to the base recipe and you have a meal.
- Fast: Start to finish this recipe will take you less than 30 minutes. If you’re adding a protein, using an air fryer can help you get that ready quickly.
- Filling: One of the reasons we love a good pasta recipe is that they seem to feed your body and soul, if you choose to add veggies, you’ll get the added boost of fiber and nutrients as well.
- Cheese: Need we say more?
The Four Things That Define A Solid Primavera Sauce:
- Parmesan Cheese: Have we mentioned that we love cheese? We like to use a finely grated decent quality parmesan that will give the dish all the flavor that we love.
- Alliums: We like the flavors that finely minced shallots and garlic bring
- White Wine: Stitch to dry wines like a Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio. If wine isn’t available, or you choose not to use it, an equivalent amount of chicken broth with 1 tablespoon lemon juice with bring the liquid and acidity to balance the sauce.
- Heavy Cream: You CAN substitute for Half & Half, Milk, or a non-dairy alternative but, if you can handle dairy, the flavor and fat of full cream is *chef’s kiss*
Some Pasta Primavera Tips:
- Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until 1 minute below al dente. Trust us, it will finish cooking when you add it to your sauce later on.
- Reserve a cup or two of pasta water (trust us, it makes a difference) before you drain your pasta.
- Not to talk about cheese again but… don’t skimp on the quality of the parmesan you purchase. It really will make a difference.
- Wait until the end to season with salt – the pasta water and parmesan will add plenty of salt to start. Remember salt is something you can always add more of at the end, but you can’t really salvage your dish if you’ve over salted the sauce.
- Use a pasta size shape that can stand up to your veggies.
Our Favorite Veggies To Use:Since this is a spring dish, we’re not opposed to the use of any veggie that you find, and fall in love with, at your local farmer’s market but here are some of our favorites.
- The easiest way to get your veggies ready is to toss them in some oil, season them, throw them on a sheet pan, toss them in an oven, and viola, you have roasted veggies to add to this dish.
Adding A Protein To Your Pasta Primavera?We like to keep it light and let that sauce shine, so we stick with a simple grilled chicken or shrimp.
- 1 lb. pasta
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Zest of ½ Lemon
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
- Red Pepper Flakes
- 8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, sliced into 1” pieces
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups baby spinach
- Cook the pasta in water seasoned with 1 tbsp kosher salt until just about al dente (2-3 mins). Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering.
- Add the mushrooms and cook until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and add to the pasta bowl, or transfer to a plate if the pasta isn’t yet fully cooked.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and give it 30 seconds to heat up. Add the asparagus, then toss to coat in the fat. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the asparagus is bite tender, about 6 minutes.
- Stir in the frozen peas and spinach. Sauté, tossing frequently, until the peas are defrosted, and the spinach is wilted. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta and mushrooms.
- Proceed to make your sauce.
If you are sticking with a simple pasta:
- In a separate pan or skillet (or in the same pan you used to cook your veggies), add the butter to the skillet and heat until it melts then foams. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until the shallot is translucent.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 cup of pasta water, and white wine to deglaze the pan. Simmer until the liquid reduces by half, 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the heavy cream, then season with your red pepper flakes.
- Add your pasta to the pan, let it simmer for about 1 minute on low heat.
- Take you pasta off the heat, stir in 2/3 of your parmesan cheese and toss until the cheese melts. If your sauce is too thick, add a little more pasta water to thin it out.
- If you are using veggies, now is the time to carefully stir them in.
- Plate your pasta and top with a drizzle of olive oil, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes to taste.