Celebrate Spring and all the great vegetables coming to harvest by making pasta primavera. This classic can easily make use of any pasta shape or to be served with a gluten-free noodle. This Spring I made his and hers versions. I am using zucchini noodles for myself since I try to eat grain free most of the time and I used traditional spaghetti for Ian.
With fresh vegetables that are abundant in every shade of green this time of year, this pasta really pops. The colors are stunning but the flavors are even better. The fresh peas burst with flavor and are not mushy. To me, they are the highlight of this dish along with the asparagus tips. These two are what makes this dish scream "Spring Has Arrived!"
Fresh Spring Vegetables are the Stars
The parmesan cream sauce that accompanies the vegetables may be what makes this sound luxurious but make no mistake the spring vegetables are the star of this dish. You and your family can use almost any vegetable you wish. There is never anything bad about eating more vegetables, especially when you get your kids to eat them. So use what you love and what is found in your area. I will share what are the more traditional spring vegetables in pasta primavera and you can select and choose. Those in bold below are the ones I used for this recipe. Do not forget the most important thing - USE FRESH VEGETABLES!
- Green Beans
Heavy Cream is a Must
I know there are times where substitutions may be used to help lower the fat or calorie content in a recipe but this IS NOT the time for that. Heavy cream, real butter, and freshly grated parmesan cheese cannot be substituted in this recipe. The earthy vegetables really need something to balance the dish and the mouthfeel that full-fat dairy items bring is the match made in heaven. Plus my guess is all those healthy vegetables cancel out all those cream and butter calories, right? Win-win!
Mise En Place - Organize your area, the steps go fast!
If you haven't heard about mis en place before, it is the French term for "putting in place or everything in its place". You will want to organize your ingredients and have them ready at an arm's length to make this recipe flow as easily as possible. The vegetables only need a few minutes in the pan so you want them ready and easy to grab when needed. Most of the vegetables in this recipe are blanched ahead of time and I suggest you have them ready in little bowls or on a large cutting board once it is time to get the sauce cooking.
Again, customize this pasta dish with the spring vegetables of your liking but I highly suggest making sure fresh peas and asparagus are amongst your choices. Be sure to use full-fat ingredients and work quickly to get everything in the pan timely. Once the sauce is ready and tossed with the zucchini or pasta, it is ready to eat and should be enjoyed immediately topped with freshly grated parmesan.
Pasta Primavera Two Ways - with Zucchini Noodles or Spaghetti
- 3 TB olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 C asparagus tips blanched
- 1 C fresh peas blanched
- ¾ C small broccoli florets blanched
- 2 small zucchini spiralized into noodles
- 1 pound spaghetti cooked al dente
- 2 TB butter
- 1 ½ C heavy cream
- 1 ⅓ C fresh parmesan grated
- 1 C grape tomatoes halved
- 2 TB fresh parsley finely chopped
- salt & pepper
* this list of ingredients is set to make 2 servings with the zucchini noodles and 4 servings with spaghetti.
To prep the zucchini noodles, I spiralize them and put them into a microwave safe bowl to microwave for 1 ½ minutes. I like them still with a snap, like al dente pasta would be. If they release moisture, I pat dry with a paper towel before saucing them.
- The spaghetti and the zucchini noodles should already be prepped and warm as you start to ready the vegetable cream sauce.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, peas, and broccoli and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and cook one additional minute. Stir to ensure all vegetables are heated through.
- Add the butter and once it has melted, pour in the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Continue on medium heat and add 1 C of the parmesan, stir until it has melted. Reduce to low and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes as the sauce will thicken a bit. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon ⅓ of the sauce over the zucchini noodles in a serving bowl. Once that is sauced, the spaghetti can be added to the pan with the remaining sauce. Toss with tongs to cover all the pasta with the sauce. Divide into 4 pasta bowls. Top each with a bit of parsley and remaining ⅓ C parmesan cheese.