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 – whatever vegetables we have on hand with a little marinara sauce.
Mom’s Pasta Primavera Recipe
4 cups of mixed vegetables, for example:
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 2x1/2-inch strips
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 small eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 bell pepper, any color, cut into thin strips
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence
- A sprinkling of garlic salt
- 1/4 cup of spaghetti, marinara, or tomato sauce
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 pound pasta (use rice pasta for gluten-free version)
- Grated Parmesan optional
1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for your pasta).
2 Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the vegetables, stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until vegetables are just cooked. Turn off heat, but let pan stay on the burner.
3 While you are cooking the vegetables, add the dry pasta to the boiling water and follow the cooking instructions for the pasta. You want to time it so that the pasta is done soon after the vegetables.
4 Add a 1/4 cup of the spaghetti, marinara, or tomato sauce to the vegetables, along with 1/4 cup of water to thin the sauce. If you are using a prepared spaghetti or marinara sauce, you don't need to add much seasoning, just a 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence, a few sprinkles of garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. If you are using a plain tomato sauce, you might want to start out cooking the vegetables by cooking a minced clove of garlic first, and then adding the vegetables, and then add a bit more of the seasoning (to taste). Spaghetti and marinara sauce are already seasoned.
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.
Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan, if you like. A little bit of chopped fresh basil would go nicely with this as well.