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Vegetable Pasta Primavera with Cream Sauce

5 from 10 community reviews

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This is my absolute favorite pasta primavera recipe! It’s one of the best Italian pasta dinner recipes you can make at home, full of a rainbow of colorful fresh vegetables in a creamy Parmesan sauce. This easy recipe shows you how to make pasta primavera any season of the year.

A serving of pasta primavera in a bowl, with two forks.

There’s so much to love about creamy pasta primavera. Like a classic fettuccine Alfredo, the simple pasta recipe is tossed in a cheesy, heavy cream sauce, with the addition of a garden-full of colorful veggies. Not only does every bite taste delicious, but the finished dish is gorgeous as all get-out.

The word primavera means “spring” in Italian, but you can use colorful fresh vegetables to make it any season of the year.

FUN FACT: The New York City restaurant Le Cirque put “spaghetti primavera” on the map, and it quickly became all the rage in the 1980s. I think now is a good time rediscover this glorious pasta recipe!

About the ingredients

  • The dish is composed of assorted vegetables, cream sauce and cooked pasta.
  • To pair the veggies and pasta, you can try any type of long pasta such as fettuccine, tagliatelle, or spaghetti, or choose one of the short Italian pasta shapes like penne, shells or farfalle (bowtie pasta). Your favorite gluten-free pasta will also work.

Vegetables in primavera sauce:

You’ll need 4 cups total of green vegetables — feel free to mix and match with what you have on hand.

Green vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli: You’ll need just the florets.
  • Peas: Frozen peas are perfect.
  • Substitutions: Try green beans (cut into 2-inch pieces), sliced zucchini, snap peas or snow peas.
A tray of green peas, broccoli florets and asparagus spears, and another tray with sliced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and carrots.
Primavera sauce includes a variety of colorful fresh vegetables.

Red and orange vegetables:

Follow the recipe, or mix and match to make 2 cups:

  • Tomatoes: Sweet cherry or grape tomatoes are available all year.
  • Carrots: Another a grocery market staple. Choose bunches with the green tops still attached for the best, sweet flavor.
  • Bell peppers: Use red peppers, or mix with yellow or orange peppers to make a colorful assortment.
  • Other veggies: Yellow squash, yellow or orange tomatoes.
Fettuccine noodles in a container, surrounded by a cup of cream, bowl of grated Parmesan, butter slices on a plate, and assorted vegetables on a plate.
You need butter, Parmesan cheese and heavy cream to make pasta primavera sauce.

Pasta primavera sauce ingredients

An Alfredo sauce made with heavy cream, butter and cheese is simplicity itself.

  • Butter: Use salted or unsalted butter.
  • Cream: Choose heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream.
  • Cheese: Finely grated Parmesan is best because it melts quickly into the sauce.
  • Optional: Grate some fresh lemon zest into the cream.

Prep steps

  • This dish comes together in minutes, but slicing and prepping takes the most time. Have your vegetables prepped before you start cooking.
  • You’ll be cooking each of the vegetables in one pan in progressive steps, so they’ll all be tender at the same time.

Cooking steps

Storing leftovers

  • If you have leftovers, refrigerate in storage container up to 3 days. Keep in mind that the pasta will absorb the cream as it cools. Leftover pasta primavera won’t be as saucy, but will still taste great!
A serving of pasta primavera in a bowl, with two forks.

Vegetable Pasta Primavera with Cream Sauce

Karen Tedesco
Pasta primavera recipe is one of the best Italian pasta dinner recipes you can make at home, full of a rainbow of colorful fresh vegetables in a creamy Parmesan sauce. Make pasta primavera any season of the year using vegetables you're craving.
Print Pin
5 from 10 community reviews
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fettuccine pasta, or spaghetti, penne or other pasta shape
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot, or yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic, 1-2 cloves
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, 4 ounces
  • ½ pound fresh asparagus spears, sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup sliced bell pepper, red, orange or a mixture
  • cups heavy whipping cream
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, or chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously (about 1 tablespoon kosher salt per quart of water), and add the pasta. Cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.
  • Put the butter and olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet and place over medium heat. When the butter melts, stir in the shallot and garlic. Cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  • Add the carrots to the pan. Cook 3-4 minutes, until the carrots turn bright orange.
  • Stir in the broccoli and asparagus. Cover the pan and let them steam 4-5 minutes, until they are bright green. Remove the lid.
  • Add the peppers to the skillet, stirring and cooking 1-2 minutes. Pour in the cream and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the cream to a boil. Cook the sauce about 5 minutes, until it looks thickened.
  • Stir the tomatoes, peas, and ½ cup cheese into the sauce and remove from the heat. Add the pasta and gently stir to coat the strands with the sauce.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl (or serve straight from the pan). Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup cheese and the basil leaves over the pasta and serve right away.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • This dish comes together in minutes, but the key is to have your vegetables prepped before you start cooking. 
  • Mix and match a variety of colorful vegetables (you’ll want about 6 cups total). Try green beans (cut into 2-inch pieces), sliced zucchini, snap peas or snow peas, yellow squash, yellow or orange tomatoes. Saute sturdier vegetables, such as green beans, before adding in the more tender ones.
  • For the pasta, you can try any type of long pasta such as fettuccine, tagliatelle, or spaghetti, or a short pasta shape like penne, shells or farfalle (bowtie pasta). Your favorite gluten-free pasta will also work.
  • Optional: Grate some fresh lemon zest over the finished dish, if you like.
  • If you have leftovers, refrigerate in storage container up to 3 days. Keep in mind that the pasta will absorb the cream as it cools. Leftover pasta primavera won’t be as saucy, but will still taste great!

Nutrition

Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Sodium: 403mg | Potassium: 715mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 6385IU | Vitamin C: 117mg | Calcium: 301mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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