Weeknight Pasta with Zucchini, Eggplant, and Peppers

Pasta primavera with sautéed fresh seasonal vegetables in a quick marinara sauce.

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


  • 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
  • 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 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.

2 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.

carrots and onion in skillet for pasta primavera zucchini, peppers, and onion in skillet

3 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.

4 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.

vegetables for primaver pasta in skillet pasta primavera in skillet

5 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.

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  • Joe Asaro

    hey folks, here’s an Italian boy with friendly advice that if you want to enjoy eggplant and not have it taste like rubber you must cook it for longer than the five minutes allowed in this recipe. Eggplant must must be tenderized and brokend down to bering out the complexities of its tast and then you have a worthy addition to this dish.

  • Brasserie Louis

    Hi Elise, this is so good and a nice light/healthy summer recipe. This one is a keeper.


  • joanne

    I use all the same vegetables but I roast them with olive oil until some blackened spot show and the juices are dried up. Then I add it to a pot with olive oil and garlic and stir in 28 ounces of marinara (Trader Joe’s). Serve over pasta. Or in a wrap. Or out of a bowl with a heap of grated cheese. Simple is always best/

  • michelle fan | chasing bagels

    I love the idea of enjoying the last summer vegetables in a way that leaves them so fresh and pure. Also love the idea of any recipe that has me standing over a hot stove for as short a time as possible!

  • Priya

    Hi Elise,
    I tried this recipe today and it came out very good. Very simple yet tasty recipe. I made these changes, added some fresh garlic to the pan as you suggested and threw in a handful of baby spinach along with Veggies. I skipped cheese and it still tasted yumm!

    Thank you for another great recipe :-)



  • Courtney Mitchell

    I made this tonight – so simple, and so tasty! I used baby portabella mushrooms, red onions, red peppers and broccoli. Thanks so much for a terrific, fresh recipe.


  • Noga

    I tried it for dinner last night for my father-in-law and he LOVED it
    thanks for the recipe


  • joyee

    I’m using this recipe for a project at school and when I served it to one of my class mates she loved it!!! She wanted the recipe sooooo bad!!!
    XD XD XD!!!


  • Juliet

    I’ve just been browsing your beautifully photographed recipes, and this one caught my eye. I would like to reply to Anna’s comment. Your version probably didn’t smell very good because of the cabbage. Perhaps that was not a good choice of vegetable. But it probably would have tasted just fine! (I hate to see food wasted…)

  • Theresa

    How about varying it a little by making it a white sauce, with white wine, chicken broth and butter? It’s always a hit in my house

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Renee

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

  • 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.