Creamy pasta primavera is an easy one pot meal that's ready in less than 30 minutes. Fresh seasonal vegetables and pasta are coated in a creamy herb sauce.
Creamy pasta primavera is easy to make with just a handful of simple ingredients. The cream sauce is filled with with light, fresh flavor from a squeeze of lemon juice and Italian herbs.
This dish is perfect for spring and summer when your pantry is filled with fresh vegetables. Ready in about 20 minutes, it's ideal as a weeknight meal or quick weekend lunch.
Plus, it's easy to customize with any pasta and vegetables you have on hand. No fresh vegetables? No problem. Toss in a bag or two of thawed frozen veggies instead.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Pasta - For this recipe, I'd suggest a strand pasta like spaghetti or fettuccine, or a medium-sized tube pasta like penne, rigatoni, or ziti. Keep in mind that for whatever pasta you use, you'll want to look at the box's cooking directions and adjust the times shown in the recipe card. Cook your pasta, whatever shape and size, to al dente.
- Vegetables - Just about any seasonal vegetables you have on hand will work in this recipe. Today I'm using yellow bell pepper, frozen peas (thawed first), zucchini, and cherry tomatoes.
- Parmesan cheese - If you'd like to make this dish vegetarian, substitute the parmesan cheese with a rennet-free/vegetarian parmesan cheese (the cheese will be labeled as such) or other hard Italian cheese similar to parmesan.
- Vegetable broth - Can be substituted with chicken broth.
- Heavy cream - Makes the sauce creamy and thick. Can be substituted with half & half for a slightly thinner sauce.
- Seasoning - Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes enhance the flavor of the skillet meal.
- Lemon juice - Adds brightness and acidity that cuts through the richness of the cream sauce.
The great part about pasta primavera is that you can use any seasonal vegetables you have on hand. My favorite choices? Zucchini, squash, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cherry tomatoes, peas, mushrooms, and onions.
If you don't have any fresh vegetables on hand, thaw some frozen vegetables to toss in. For example, I used thawed frozen peas in combination with the fresh vegetables I had available. Or, try tossing in a bag of thawed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
Tips and tricks
- For a creamy sauce, don't omit the heavy cream. If you need to substitute, use half & half, which is a product made of half cream and half whole milk. Your sauce will be slightly thinner, but still nice and creamy.
- Because we're cooking all the ingredients in a single pan, it's important to accurately measure both the pasta and the broth. Just enough broth is added to cook your pasta through without leaving excess liquid in the pan.
- Pan looking dry? Add a splash of water and turn the heat down slightly.
- Excess liquid in the pan after your pasta has finished cooking? Feel free to drain a little broth out if needed. Otherwise, your sauce may turn out thin.
- Allow the entire skillet to rest for 5 minutes, undisturbed, after cooking. This allows time for the sauce to thicken.
Pasta cook times
Since this entire meal is made in a single pan, you'll start your pasta, then partway through add your seasonal vegetables.
Check your pasta's package directions for cook times. Different size and shapes of pasta require different cook times, so it's important to check before beginning. Otherwise, your pasta may be over-cooked by the time your vegetables cook through.
For example, my fettuccine takes 12 minutes to cook to al dente. So, I cooked my pasta for 5 minutes, added my vegetables, then allowed everything to cook for another 7 minutes.
If your pasta takes 9 minutes to cook to al dente, you'll want to add your vegetables after 2 minutes, so that they still have 7 minutes to cook through.
If you have a pasta that takes less than 7 minutes to cook, add your vegetables first, then add your pasta at the time needed to cook it to al dente.
One Pot Creamy Pasta Primavera
- 18 ounces vegetable broth
- 8 ounces pasta
- 4 cups seasonal vegetables, cut into bite size pieces if needed
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, *
- In a sauté pan over medium heat, add broth and pasta. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low.
- Consult pasta's cooking directions for al dente pasta. Cook pasta until 7 minutes remain, then add vegetables, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir, cover, and cook for remaining 7 minutes. Pasta and vegetables should be cooked through and most of liquid should be absorbed.(ex: if pasta takes 12 minutes to cook to al dente, cook for 5 minutes, add vegetables, then cook for remaining 7 minutes).
- Uncover pan and add heavy cream, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Stir and cook for 1 minute, or until cheese has melted.
- Remove from heat and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving. Sauce will continue to thicken as it stands.
- * To make vegetarian, substitute parmesan cheese with a rennet-free parmesan, vegetarian parmesan, or other Italian hard cheese that is labeled as vegetarian or vegan.
- 18 ounces of broth = 2 ¼ liquid cups
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice = juice from 1 lemon
- Recommended seasonal vegetables: Zucchini, squash, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cherry tomatoes, peas, mushrooms, onions.
- If using frozen vegetables, thaw before cooking.