What Is 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!
Updated from the recipe archive. First posted 2006.
Weeknight Pasta with Zucchini, Eggplant, and Peppers
- 1/2 pound fusilli pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin 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
- 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)
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water:
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.
Sauté carrots and onions:
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.
Add zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, garlic:
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.
Add thinned tomato sauce into vegetables, add seasoning:
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.
Add cooked pasta, stir in cherry tomatoes, basil, Parmesan:
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.