Easy Pasta Primavera

The word primavera refers to being served with fresh vegetables; it is from the Italian (alla) primavera, or (in the) spring (style). Pasta primavera is almost always a simple-to-prepare dish using the fresh vegetables of the season.

In spring you might make it with asparagus and peas, later in the summer with tomatoes and zucchini. Sometimes it uses a cream sauce, sometimes a marinara sauce, and sometimes, just with some olive oil and shaved Parmesan.

The following recipe is how my mother likes to prepare Pasta Primavera, with whatever vegetables we have on hand and a little marinara sauce. It takes only 30 minutes to prepare, start to finish. Easy!

Pasta Primavera

Updated from the recipe archive. First posted 2006.

Easy Pasta Primavera Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1/2 pound fusilli pasta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 2x1/2-inch strips
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1/2 small eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch by 1-inch slices
  • 1/2 bell pepper, any color, cut into thin strips
  • Salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce (or prepared spaghetti or marinara sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (dried thyme, oregano, basil)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Grated Parmesan optional (omit for vegan version)


1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (1 Tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water). While the water is heating, prep the vegetables.

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta to the water. The pasta should take about 10 minutes to cook (check the package). Cook uncovered at a vigorous boil.

You'll cook the vegetables while the pasta is cooking so they get done about the same time.

2 Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the carrots and onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.

pasta-primavera-method-1 pasta-primavera-method-2

3 Add the zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper to the pan with the onions and carrots. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium high to high heat, until the vegetables are just barely cooked through. Sprinkle with vegetables with a little salt while cooking.

Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Turn off the heat, but let pan stay on the burner.

4 Thin 1/2 cup of tomato sauce (or spaghetti or marinara sauce) with 1/2 cup of the pasta water in a small bowl.

Stir the sauce into the vegetables. Stir in the Italian seasoning and pepper. (If you are using prepared spaghetti or marinara sauce that is already well seasoned, you may not need as much additional seasoning, perhaps only 1/2 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning.)

Add salt to taste.

pasta-primavera-method-3 pasta-primavera-method-4

5 Once the pasta is ready—cooked but still a bit firm, or al dente—drain the pasta and put it directly into the skillet with the vegetables. Adjust seasoning. Add more sauce if needed. Gently mix in the cherry tomatoes and thinly sliced basil.

Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan, if you like.

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Pasta Primavera

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Showing 4 of 16 Comments

  • Jeremy Henderson

    I’m in the “olive oil and parmesan” camp when it comes to primavera, but those pictures look delicious enough that I might have to swtich sides.

  • Renee

    Very good idea for dinner tonight! I’m going to use carrots and shallots. Parmesan and basil are definitely good additions!

  • Ronster

    Years of cooking. Countless cookbooks. Innumerable websites. Too many unfortunate experiments. After all that, the dish that gets the best reviews at my house is this one. Thank you so much for reeling me back in to the concept of freshness and simplicity as the basis for a wonderful meal. I found this recipe after searching for a cleaner, more everyday primavera, and it has quickly become a staple at my house. I vary the vegetables depending on what’s ripe in the garden or appealing at the market, and it’s always just what I want. It’s so simple. And it’s the dish I look forward to preparing for friends.

  • Anna

    Very good recipe. I used red onion, cabbage, eggplant, carrot and tomatoes! :) I put some in the fridge overnight to eat, and it smelt gross the next day! Hehe. So I just threw it out. :( Keep posting more recipes!

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