Pasta primavera is loaded with spring veggies, tossed in a light lemon cream sauce. It’s a dish you’ll find yourself craving more than just in the springtime.
What is Pasta Primavera?
Pasta primavera literally means “spring pasta.” Most recipes for pasta primavera though, call for a “kitchen sink” veggie medley. But this pasta primavera recipe uses complementary spring veggies only, which makes all the difference!
You won’t feel like a bunny rabbit munching away at a pile of random veggies. In this version, the veggies are the stars of the show!
If you’re loving creamy lemon pasta, you’ll love this Creamy Lemon Pasta (Pasta al Limone) too!
Pasta Primavera Ingredients
- Fettuccine pasta – fettuccine is my favorite shape for pasta primavera. If you can’t find fettuccine, you can use linguine or even spaghetti.
- Leeks – leeks add a touch of sweetness and mild onion astringency.
- Asparagus – we’ll be making asparagus shavings (ribbons) out of an asparagus bunch! The ribbons really make this dish and are worth the time and effort.
- Frozen peas – peas add pops of sweetness and juiciness. Frozen peas work the best, but you can also use fresh peas.
- Arugula – arugula adds peppery undertones.
- Chives – chives are a great fresh, green addition.
- Shallots – shallots add texture and mild onion undertones.
- Garlic – garlic…because garlic!
- Heavy cream – heavy cream makes a beautiful, silky cream sauce thinned out by some pasta water.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – you can also use parmesan cheese.
- Lemon – lemon juice and zest add brightness and freshness.
- Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil helps sauté our veggies.
- Basil (optional) – basil is a great garnish, adding fragrance and beauty.
How to Make Pasta Primavera
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Trim the very bottoms of the asparagus. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the outer dark green layer off the bottom half of each asparagus spear (this part is tough and chewy). Discard. Use the veggie peeler again to shave the tender bottom half of each asparagus spear into ribbons until they’re too thin to work with. Do the same for the top half of each asparagus. After you have a cup of asparagus ribbons, set them aside.
Microwave peas with 2 tablespoons of water in a covered bowl for 2 minutes. Drain.
In a large skillet or pot, add shallots, garlic, and olive oil. Sauté for 3-5 minutes over medium heat.
Add asparagus ribbons and leeks. Sauté for an additional 3-5 minutes.
Make a well in the center of the veggies. Turn heat to very low. Add cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Keep heat on low.
Boil pasta. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta water.
Add pasta, chives, arugula, peas, and parmesan to the veggie and cream mixture. Toss. Add pasta water to desired consistency.
Serve right away, garnished with basil.
- Protein: add shrimp, grilled or Baked Chicken Breast, bacon, sausage or Poached Salmon.
- Spicy: add hot pepper flakes for a kick!
- Cheesy: add a handful of mozzarella cheese or parmesan for extra cheesiness.
- Olive oil only: instead of the cream, use about 2/3 cup of olive oil.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I love fettuccine for this pasta. You can also use linguine which is a bit thinner than fettuccine.
Pasta primavera is a great dish all by itself for dinner or even for lunch. For side dish options, try juicy Baked Chicken Thighs, Baked Salmon, or Garlic Bread.
Pasta primavera is best enjoyed right away. Store leftover pasta primavera in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge.
Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, loosening with a bit more cream for best results.
I don’t recommend freezing leftovers.
More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love!
- Pasta alla Genovese (6-Hour Beef & Onion Sauce)
- Secret-Ingredient Mushroom Pasta
- Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon and Sage
- Tuna Pasta Salad (No Mayo!)
- The Ultimate Pasta With Bacon and Peas
- 1 pound fettuccine pasta
- 1 ½ cup leeks chopped
- 1 cup shaved asparagus (1 big bunch needed) details below
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 handful arugula
- 1 handful chives snipped
- 4 medium shallots chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or parmesan cheese (plus more to garnish)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon zested
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil to garnish
- Trim the very bottoms of the asparagus. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the outer dark green layer off the bottom half of each asparagus (this part is tough and chewy). Discard. Use the veggie peeler again to shave the tender bottom half of each asparagus spear into ribbons until they’re too thin to work with. Do the same for the top half of each asparagus spear. After you have a cup of asparagus ribbons, set them aside. See video for details on ribbon technique for step-by-step instructions!
- Microwave peas with 2 tablespoons of water in a covered bowl for 2 minutes. Drain. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or pot, add shallots, garlic, and olive oil. Sauté for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until shallots soften.
- Add asparagus ribbons and leeks. Sauté for an additional 3-5 minutes until asparagus softens.
- Make a well in the center of the veggies. Turn heat to very low. Add cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Keep heat on low just to warm the cream while boiling the pasta.
- Boil pasta. Reserve ⅓ cup pasta water towards the ending of the cooking process.
- Add pasta, chives, arugula, peas, and parmesan to the veggie and cream mixture. Toss. Add pasta water to desired consistency (I add it all).
- Serve right away, garnished with basil, more cheese and black pepper.
- You can use linguine if you can’t find fettuccine.
- You can use butter instead of olive oil if you prefer a richer result!
- It’s easiest to zest lemon before juicing.
- Although the asparagus ribbons are very much worth the time, you can also just cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Double the sauté time.