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This healthy plant-forward pasta primavera is made of half vegetables, and the other half pasta. It also includes just enough seasonings that you can simply drizzle with a little olive oil, or toss in your favorite flavored pasta sauce.
I’ll give you several delicious plant-based sauces below – some of them being oil-free and processed sugar-free – all of them delicious!
Navigate this post
- What is pasta primavera?
- Why you’ll love this pasta primavera recipe
- Pin now to save for later
- Ingredients needed to make healthy plant-based pasta primavera
- How to make pasta primavera
- Just the FAQs! A few questions and answers
- For some more delicious healthy plant-based recipes from Veggie Fun Kitchen, try
- The printable recipe card for plant-based pasta primavera
What is pasta primavera?
Pasta primavera is, at its most common form, a combination of pasta and vegetables. It can be topped and tossed with any type of sauce you’d like.
It was actually officially “created” in the 1970’s in Nova Scotia at the home of an Italian Baron by a New York restauranteur and naturally, shortly afterward, started appearing in New York.
So, is pasta primavera an Italian dish? Probably not technically? Or is it? I’m sure that dishes with pasta and vegetable combinations have been appearing on Italian dinner tables long before the 1970’s.
Read more about the history of pasta primavera in this informative article on Wikipedia.
Why you’ll love this pasta primavera recipe
- oil-free option
- use your choice of vegetables
- goes with any pasta sauce
- or is flavorful enough to eat with a little olive oil drizzled on top
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Ingredients needed to make healthy plant-based pasta primavera
- you will need a variety of vegetables (see below)
- pasta – I like shaped pasta like bow-tie, corkscrew, or rigatoni, but you can use anything you’d like
- olive oil
- minced garlic
- Italian seasonings and salt/pepper
- Fresh basil – not to cook with but to slice and top your pasta dish
- You’ll also need a sauté pan with a lid and a pot to cook the pasta.
Suggestions for vegetables
You can use any vegetables you’d like for pasta primavera. Just make sure you use a total of eight cups of chopped vegetables.
Vegetables I like to use include:
- summer squash such as zucchini, yellow squash, and Mexican gray squash
- ( I prefer not to use winter squashes in pasta primavera)
- carrot slices
- cherry tomatoes
- baby spinach (throw it in AFTER cooking)
- onions and/or sweet peppers – I try to use about one-half cup in the mix
For today’s recipe I used Mexican gray squash, carrots, sweet peppers, and broccoli.
How to make pasta primavera
Step 1: BOIL THE WATER AND PREP THE VEGETABLES
Boil and salt the water for pasta according to package directions.
Mince the garlic and cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. To really make this recipe veggie-forward, make sure to use about eight cups of cut vegetables.
Step 2: Season and saute the veggies
Line a non-stick pan with olive oil. Heat on med/high and add the cut vegetables, garlic, and seasonings.
What are Italian Seasonings?
People have asked me what “Italian” seasonings are and have even gotten irritated with me for not being more specific. If you are not familiar with them yet, Italian seasonings are literally mixed seasonings that come in a jar – all ready pre-mixed! You can find them in any grocery store or here on Amazon (affiliate link).
Jarred Italian Seasonings are apparently not a thing in Italy – but many of us not in Italy use them all the time! You can also make your own Italian seasoning mix. I found this recipe by Little Sunny Kitchen for Italian Seasoning Mix.
Step 3: Boil the pasta and finish cooking the vegetables
Sauté for only two minutes on medium/high. Then turn it down to low-medium/low and put the lid on.
By this time your water will hopefully be at a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
Step 4: Sauce it up!
Hopefully you’ve timed everything right and your pasta should be done at about the same time as your vegetables. The vegetables should be soft – but not mushy. A little firm is best. And the pasta should be al dente – again, not mushy.
Combine them together and you are ready to sauce it up!
Options for sauces and toppings
When I think of pasta primavera, I think of a red sauce. Apparently, some people think of a white sauce! It doesn’t matter which you prefer; Veggie Fun Kitchen has the options for both! To top your pasta primavera, you can use:
- at it’s most basic, a little olive oil drizzled on top
- your choice of marinara sauce – use a jar or make my oil-free and sugar-free homemade pasta sauce
- vegan Alfredo sauce
- vegan vodka sauce
- pumpkin vodka sauce (coming soon)
- vegan parmesan cheese (we used Follow Your Heart brand today) or you can make my parmesan cheese with cashews
- And don’t forget the fresh basil! Slice it and sprinkle on top – no matter which sauce you use.
Just the FAQs! A few questions and answers
The name of this veggie filled pasta dish literally translates to pasta (of course) and the primavera means first green or spring – so I’m interpreting that as spring vegetables.
You’d think…right? Pasta primavera was certainly inspired by Italian cooking, flavors, and ingredients, but was in fact invented in North America in the 1970’s and has its origins in Canada and then New York. Read more about the origins of pasta primavera in this Wikipedia article.
It is the way that I make it! If your pasta is vegan and you leave off the dairy parmesan cheese and sauces, it will definitely be vegan. In fact, it’s often my go-to when at a restaurant looking for vegan food. Just make sure you question what goes into the meal so that you know what you are getting.
It really can be! Depending on your health needs and ideas about what makes a heathy meal, you might want to make some adjustments. Don’t want carb-y pasta? Use whatever version you’d like, including pasta made with beans or veggies. Or spiralize some vegetables and use for pasta. Don’t want to cook it with oil? Not a problem, see below. Want to make sure the sauce you used is healthy? You do you. I’ve listed a few below that I think are brilliantly healthy – but we all have our own ideas.
Yes, just sauté the vegetables in a little veggie broth instead of oil. Use a non-stick pan and watch it carefully so that it does’t burn.
Toss in some olive oil, marinara sauce, vegan Alfredo, or my fabulous vodka sauce. There are those who think pasta primavera should have a white sauce and those who disagree and say it needs a red sauce. I love the options!
It really depends on how fresh your vegetables are. I’d say a good rule of thumb is five days in the fridge, tightly covered.
For some more delicious healthy plant-based recipes from Veggie Fun Kitchen, try
- Pasta Sauce with Artichoke Hearts
- Lentil Shepherds Pie
- Veggie Lentil Soup
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Quinoa
- Pumpkin Mousse
The printable recipe card for plant-based pasta primavera
Did you love this recipe? Want to share the love? It would thrill me to no end if you could leave five ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ stars and even a comment. Did you know that this will help google to find this recipe when others are looking for something similar? Thanks, Cindy
Pasta Primavera, Plant-Based
- 8 ounces dry pasta
- 1 Tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups chopped vegetables see notes for suggestion
- 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Boil salted water according to package directions on box of pasta.
- While the water is boiling chop all vegetables and set aside. See suggestions for vegetables below in the notes.
- Add the olive oil to a saute pan and heat on high. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic, salt, and seasoning. Stir while sautéing on high for 2 minutes. It's about this time that you should add the pasta to the boiling water. (See next step.)
- Once the water boils, cook the pasta according to package directions. When finish, drain and return to pan to use with sautéed vegetables (see next step).
- While the pasta is boiling you can finish cooking the vegetables. By now you have already sauteed on medium/high for two minutes. Turn the heat down to medium/low and cover. Allow continuing cooking covered for 8 minutes while the pasta is cooking. (If you've timed it right then everything will be ready at the same time.)
- After the vegetables have finished sautéing and cooking and the pasta has been cooked and drained, add the two together and toss to combine.
- See suggestions in the notes below for sauce and topping recommendations.
- summer squash such as zucchini, yellow squash, or Mexican gray squash
- I like to use one-half cup bell/sweet peppers or onions (or both)