This One Pot Pasta Primavera is a 30-minute dinner that's packed with fresh vegetables and an easy creamy parmesan sauce.
Ingredients in pasta primavera
This ingredient list is relatively short and sweet – you just need pasta, some liquid to cook it, veggies, cream and parmesan cheese. Technically in a true primavera pasta you you not use cream, so that's always an option to leave out, although in my opinion it makes it that much more delicious!
Here's what you need on hand:
- Penne pasta
- Chicken broth (to cook the pasta)
- Red onion & garlic (for flavour)
- Butter, heavy cream and parmesan cheese (for the sauce)
- Mixed fresh vegetables
What is primavera sauce made of?
A primavera sauce is usually a combination of butter, leftover pasta liquid and Parmesan cheese. Typical add-ins to this sauce are heavy cream and/or lemon juice or zest. Unlike an Alfredo sauce, the focus of this pasta recipe is on the fresh vegetables themselves. Keeping the sauce simple with just a few ingredients allows it to compliment the natural flavour of the veggies.
Why is it called pasta primavera?
There’s some debate on the true origins of this pasta recipe, as several chefs claim to be the ones who originally came up with the combination.
We do know for sure that the dish was introduced in New York City restaurants in the 1970s by combining fresh spring vegetables with tender pasta and a light cream sauce.
It’s only fitting that it took on the name primavera, which means “spring” in Italian.
How to make pasta primavera
Here's how to make this easy pasta recipe:
- Sauté the sliced onion and minced garlic until the garlic is fragrant, but before it starts to brown.
- Add the pasta and broth to the pot. Stir gently and scrape any garlic stuck to the bottom. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until pasta is al dente, usually about 10-15 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare your vegetables. Once the pasta is ready, add the vegetables and cook for a few more minutes. Stir everything occasionally so nothing gets stuck to the bottom of the pot or burned. If you’ll be using frozen veggies, steam them for just a bit in the microwave and drain. This allows them to crisp better in the pan and prevents the release of extra liquid.
- Stir in the sauce ingredients until well combined, and season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon into bowls and top with fresh parsley if you would like. Enjoy!
- Broth: Vegetable broth is an easy replacement for the chicken broth. As a result, it will be a completely vegetarian pasta recipe.
- Pasta: This dish is extremely flexible. Any medium noodle such as rotini, rigatoni, or farfalle can be used in place of the penne. Larger pasta like spaghetti, fettucini, or linguine will work as well.
- Meat: If you would like to add some protein to this pasta recipe, chicken or shrimp are great options. Whatever you use will need to be sauteed in the pot before you add the onion/garlic/pasta/broth, then mixed in at the end so that the meat doesn't overcook.
- Vegetables: This dish was originally created with whatever fresh vegetables were on hand at the time.That means it’s a great opportunity to clear out any vegetables in your fridge that need to be used up, or just substitute your favorites. Because frozen vegetables are just as nutritious, feel free to use any variety of these if fresh vegetables aren’t accessible.
What to serve on the side
This delicious dinner has plenty of veggies and is quite filling on its own. If you’d like to serve something alongside it, you can’t go wrong with some warm garlic bread or your favorite dinner rolls.
A salad may seem like overkill, but more greens are never a bad thing. Keep it simple so it doesn’t compete with the flavors of the pasta.
Storing, reheating & freezing
You can store this pasta in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, warm a little oil in a pan on the stove. Add the leftovers to the pan and stir occasionally until heated through.
You can also add your leftovers to a microwave-safe dish and heat on high for a few minutes. The vegetables just won’t be as crisp if you use this method. Make sure to add some extra water when reheating using whichever method to ensure your pasta doesn't dry out.
Although you can freeze this meal, it is not a great idea. The texture of the vegetables just aren’t the same when reheated. As a result, it's best to enjoy it within a few days after making it.
If you’d still like to freeze for later, there are a couple of methods that seem to work well.
One is separating portions into freezer-safe zippered plastic bags. Then drop the bag into simmering water until heated through before serving. You could also freeze the dish in a disposable foil pan. When you’re ready to reheat, place the pan in a preheated oven and bake.
More one pot pasta recipes
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on turning this pasta into leftovers
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
One Pot Pasta Primavera
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian
- 4 cups mixed fresh vegetables (I used a combination of broccoli florets, julienned carrots, chopped yellow pepper, diced zucchini and frozen peas)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese make sure the parmesan is vegetarian if necessary
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (optional)
- Add olive oil to a large Dutch oven over med-high heat. Saute onion and garlic for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Add in penne pasta and chicken broth, then bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring often, until pasta is almost cooked through.
- Meanwhile, prepare veggies. Add to pasta and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender-crisp.
- Stir in butter, salt & pepper, cream and parmesan cheese, tossing to coat. Remove from heat. Serve garnished with parsley (optional), and enjoy!