Classic Pasta Primavera

Angel hair pasta with a butter, cream, Parmesan sauce, and plenty of fresh vegetables - broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, snow peas, tomatoes, garlic and basil.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta or spaghetti
  • 1 small bunch broccoli, about 1 heaping cup of florets
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 4 asparagus spears
  • 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 Roma or other paste tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 12 basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt


1 Get a large pot of water boiling. Salt it well. It should taste like the sea. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Boil the broccoli for 1 minute. Add the asparagus and boil another minute. Add the snow peas and boil for 30 more seconds. Remove all the vegetables and plunge them into the ice water. Once they’re cool, drain in a colander.

If you want, you can boil your pasta in the same pot you boiled the vegetables in, or you can start over and boil new water; I use the same water.

2 In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot, add the garlic and zucchini and sauté 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes and sauté another 2 minutes, stirring often.

3 Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and turn the heat to high to bring it to a boil. Add the cream and toss in all the vegetables you boiled, plus the peas. Stir to combine. Turn the heat down until the cream-chicken broth mixture is just simmering, not boiling.

4 Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. If the sauce seems too thick – it should be pretty thick, but not gloppy – add some more chicken broth, cream or water.

5 Boil the angel hair pasta. Note: If you are using spaghetti, you will want to start cooking it before you begin sautéing the garlic and zucchini. Angel hair will only need 1-2 minutes to cook, vermicelli or spaghetti can take 8-12 minutes.

As soon as the pasta is done, transfer it with tongs into the sauce and stir to combine. Add the basil now, and taste for salt. Add salt if needed. Grind some black pepper over everything and serve immediately.

You will want a dry white wine with this, ideally a dry French white.

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  • Erin

    With the broth, cream, butter, and parmesan, it’s more like an alfredo sauce, which generally needs to be made in a saucepan on its own. The flavors of this dish are really good, but trying to make the “sauce” (as it’s called here) while the vegetables are in the pan makes it so that the cheese sticks to the vegetables and does not blend in with the milk and cream. My end result was a flavorful dish, but a gloppy consistency. Any thoughts?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Erin, I would just stir in more stock or water.

    • John

      The temp was too low when you added the cheese. As it says bring it to a boil, lower temp add cheese (immediately). I used fresh grated. Pre-grated shaker cheese may be too dry.

  • Natasha D'souza

    Pasta is one of my all time favourite dish. Does regular spaghetti will look or tastes like a capellini after preparation?

    • Elise

      Hi Natasha, the thin pasta holds more of the seasoning, so yes, not only does it feel very different in the mouth, the taste is different too. I don’t recommend making this with regular spaghetti pasta.

  • sue

    This was simple elegant and delish. Definite hit w my picky kids. They loved it. Keeping in rotation! Thanx

  • CB

    Delicious! Just made this with white wine + chicken bouillon granules instead of chicken broth, and had to use half & half because I didn’t have cream. I can imagine it’s better with cream! Thank you!

  • Emily

    I made this recipe (using vegetable broth) for a dinner party and it was an enormous success! My guests ate every last bite, with a couple even asking for seconds. Substituting angel hair pasta for heavier spaghetti was the perfect way to modernize this classic meal.

  • Stacy

    Made this tonight. It was fantastic! A perfect summer dish for dinners out on the deck!

  • Jordan

    How can this be filed under ‘vegetarian’ if in step 3, you are pouring in chicken broth? How is it with using veggie broth instead? Anyone?

    It’s filed under ‘Vegetarian’ because this recipe is wonderful done with vegetable stock. ~Hank

  • Jodi

    Mmmmm. I need to make this soon. May I also suggest Spaghetti Squash instead of pasta? Since we have tomato allergy in our family I’ll also be using roasted red peppers instead.

  • Anne Murphy

    This was delicious. I threw in some shrimp and mushrooms as well, and used white wine instead of chicken broth. YUMMY!!! Will definitely make it again.


  • Rachel Smith

    Fabulous! We used yellow squash instead of zucchini, fresh sugar snap peas instead of the snow peas and peas, and just sprinkled each serving with fresh torn basil leaves. A definate do over.

  • Janine

    Made this last night. Store was out of snow peas and I forgot the peas in the freezer. I bought some sweet peppers instead and also cut some green beans. Turned out great. Also used more broth and cream. I like my pasta creamy. Had not eaten this before, but the preparation reminded me of Espageti verde (green pasta), a mexican dish where poblano peppers are blended with cream and added to spaghetti. Thanks for sharing.

  • Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle

    I have a cookbook that was my mothers that is one of those compilation of dishes from a woman’s group at church. In it is a dish called Pasta con Broccoli that I have been making for…drum roll please – 30 years! It’s very similar to a pasta primavera but only with broccoli, mushrooms and tomatoes…and a lot of butter and parmesan.

    I think that is what started my family on the road to loving pasta with a lot of vegetables and simple sauces…all meatless and all depending on what is fresh and available!

  • Sarah

    This sounds awesome. I’m definitely going to make it this week, but I think I will ditch the broccoli and snow peas and go for some julienned carrots and red bell pepper instead, the way I had it at my favorite restaurant growing up – also because the colors are lovely!

  • Nina

    I literally just finished this dish right now, and wow so good! This one’s a keeper; good job Hank Shaw!

  • Evan Warner

    my daughter doesn’t like pasta at all but when I made this recipe at home she really enjoyed it. This recipe is delicious and takes less effort to cook so you can enjoy the rest of the time with your family or watching fav soaps in TV. Thanks for sharing such a good recipe.

  • David Sandford

    I’ve used many combinations of vegetables when making this dish, but I do it with a few differences.

    The first and probably major difference is that except for the pasta I cook the entire meal in a single large frying pan.

    Another big difference is that I use Fettuccine as my pasta of choice. It is usually homemade and precooked – I keep it in fresh water in the refrigerator (change water daily).

    My other differences is that I use butter and 1/2 & 1/2 instead of heavy cream.
    (occasionally I’ve even used 2% milk – this requires more Parmesan to thicken the sauce – usually when I do this I skip the stock and add a splash of white wine instead).

    I always start by cutting all the vegetables into small pieces.

    Saute’ minced garlic in butter for a few seconds, on med high heat.

    Next add the vegetables, stirring constantly to keep them from burning (I add the vegetables separated and at different times depending on how done I want them to be, so they’ll all be done at the same time).

    Then I dump the vegetables out of the pan onto a plate or bowl.

    Add the drained Fettuccine and warm it a bit.

    Add the 1/2 & 1/2 and Parmesan. Stir till thickened.

    Add stock. Continue to stir until thickened

    Add the vegetables, season, and serve.

    –Sorry I didn’t add amounts, but normally I don’t physically measure anything when cooking, and for some reason I just didn’t feel like using my head today in figuring out the amounts.

  • Anna

    It’s been years since I had pasta primavera. I used to make it myself, but rarely ordered it in restaurants because invariably it arrived loaded with my least favorite veggies (or worse, mushrooms!) and skimpy on my favorites.

    I stopped eating pasta in 2004 (between the gluten thing and the blood sugar thing, pasta just isn’t my friend anymore), but the veggies, cream, and parmigiano are right up my alley. This weekend I’ll serve this w/o pasta for my husband and I, and with rice pasta for our son. It’ll be a great way to use up some of our CSA veggies to make room for the new box that arrives on Tuesday.

  • Susan

    I love this dish, I don’t care if it is or was the butt of old jokes. Every dish that’s ever “caught on” and became a feature at every restaurant you stepped in, has done so because it really is good and meets most of the criteria to be profitable for a restaurant. This one is popular, inexpensive to make, easy to prepare and adapt, is fairly healthy and can feed a lot of people. What’s not to like?

  • Nick

    Great recipe Hank! I’m not sure that I’ve ever had primavera made with Angel Hair pasta. Sounds really interesting though.

    I’d say the most important thing about a pasta primavera is just making sure you don’t overcook the veggies. A tiny crunch to them is perfect.

  • Toni

    I make a much different version of this, which I always assumed was the “Classic Italian Way.” And little did I know this only came about in the 70s?? I normally use:

    Peppers (green, red, orange and yellow!)

    I saute the veggies (in olive oil, salt & pepper) that need the most time to cook up first – such as the mushrooms, onions and broccoli – until tender. Then throw in the rest, let them soften a little (I HATE overcooked peppers when they’re to the point of the skin bubbling off – I can’t seem to digest the skin if it’s coming off the pepper. Yuck.), add chicken stock and some white wine, and let that cook for a bit while the pasta is cooking. And I’m not the biggest spaghetti fan (although I’m all Italian), so I use rigatoni instead. When the pasta is cooked and drained, I add the veggies to it, add some fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve! It’s delicious. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll add some toasted pine nuts, too :)

    Actually, pine nuts and mushrooms ARE in the original version! I left them out because the dish was getting chaotic. ~Hank