Our simple Pasta Primavera is an easy way to use up all those veggies in your fridge! It’s a flavorful dinner that gets even the kids excited about vegetables and it’s so colorful and healthful!
My daughter has gone *mostly* meatless for the past year now and, let me tell you, it’s been quite an adjustment for me as the cook in the family.
I want to be supportive and respectful of her food choices and I also want to make my Mississippi Pot Roast three times a week for dinner.
I still make my old favorites once or twice a week, but I also have gotten really good at incorporating more meatless meals in the rotation. We all love our air fried tofu, which is a quick and easy go to for us, but we also do a lot of meals that are just heavier on the veggies, like this Pasta Primavera.
This is a perfect weeknight meal, especially towards the end of the week when your produce is starting to look a little desperate. “Please don’t forget about me, I’m delicious.” <— That’s what I imagine my veggie drawer sounds like every time I open the fridge.
Pasta primavera is perfect for rescuing those veggies and this one is very easy to adapt to use what you have on hand.
Our favorite version is made with whole grain pasta, zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes, asparagus, and a boat load of fresh basil. Plus just a smidge of freshly grated Parmesan to make things a little creamy.
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Whole Grain Penne – If you’ve never tried whole grain pasta it’s pretty much the same just with more of a nutty flavor, and of course it is healthier and more nutritious. You can use any brand you like, or other shaped pasta! Regular pasta works just as well, no changes needed.
Butter & Olive Oil – For sauteing those veggies!
Veggies – For the fresh veggies I am using a yellow onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and garlic. Adjust to use what you have on hand, but the key is to have some variety for the best flavor.
Fresh Basil – We love the flavor that the fresh basil adds to this penne pasta recipe! I tear the basil leaves into small pieces and combine with the pasta and vegetables just before serving.
Salt & Pepper – We’re keeping it simple since the veggies add in loads of flavor themselves.
Parmesan – This recipe has simple ingredients with minimal seasonings, which means we’re going to want a good quality Parmesan cheese to be the star here.
We would not recommend the green shaker can of Parmesan in this recipe. We prefer Parmesan that is freshly grated into a powdery cheese from the cheese counter at the grocery store.
You can also finely grate a wedge of Parmesan yourself. If you’re using shredded cheese, it won’t melt as nicely to form the sauce. You’ll want finely grated, powdery cheese.
What We Love About This Recipe:
- Wholesome and Nourishing: This pasta primavera has the goodness of whole grain pasta paired with loads of fresh veggies in a light sauce.
- Vibrant Flavors & Colors: We love to eat the rainbow, whether that means Skittles or veggies, and this is a tasty way to go about it with our vibrant array of vegetables and herbs.
- Meatless: Trying to reduce your meat consumption? This is a simple way to serve up dinner and no one misses the meat! Swap the whole grain pasta for chickpea pasta if you’d like a bit more protein.
- Easy Weeknight Meal: Whip up this pasta primavera in no time, as it is a quick and easy recipe that fits perfectly into your busy weeknight schedule. Ready in about 20 minutes!
- Versatile: Add your favorite vegetables and herbs to personalize this pasta primavera, making it a flexible dish that suits your preferences and seasonal produce.
How to Make Whole Grain Pasta Primavera:
Saute: While your pasta is boiling, heat up some butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft and translucent and stir in the garlic and cook til fragrant.
Cast iron skillets are my favorite! They heat so evenly, get piping hot for searing, and nothing is better than bacon fried in a cast iron skillet.
Veggies: Add all of the remaining vegetables, aside from the tomatoes, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir in those tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes or so, just to soften them up a bit.
Combine: With the pasta and the veggies done you can now combine it all! Pour a 1/3 cup of the pasta water into the skillet and add the whole grain penne pasta to the veggies.
Parmesan: Now for my favorite part! Sprinkle all that finely grated Parmesan cheese over the pasta and veggies and toss it all to combine. Keep tossing until the cheese has melted and it forms a glossy sauce.
You may add more pasta water, about a tablespoon or two at a time, if you need to thin out the consistency a bit.
Serve: After tossing everything together I tear up some fresh basil leaves and mix those in just before serving! With all those fresh and cheesy flavors the kids won’t even notice that it’s whole grain pasta.
What To Serve With Whole Grain Pasta:
You can easily make a meal out this recipe with all the pasta and veggies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t serve it up with a side salad or other sides! Here are a few good recipes that would go well with this whole grain pasta:
Whole grain pasta has a higher fiber content and more nutrients than traditional pasta. It tastes a bit nuttier, a bit like whole wheat bread compared to white bread.
The sauce on this pasta primavera is very simple, so we recommend using the best Parmesan cheese you can afford. The kind in the green shaker can really won’t do this pasta justice. I recommend purchasing a block of Parmesan and grating it yourself or buying it pre-grated at the fancy cheese counter at your local grocery store.
You can keep any leftovers stored in your refrigerator for about 3-4 days. You may need to add a little water when reheating as the cheese sauce will thicken in the fridge.
MORE EASY PASTA RECIPES!
- Garlic Pasta
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
- Taco Pasta Salad
- Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- Homemade Alfredo
- 1 pound whole grain penne
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 medium zucchini chopped into half moons
- 1 medium yellow crookneck squash chopped into half moons
- 1 cup roughly chopped asparagus
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt more to taste
- 1 teaspoon cracked pepper more to taste
- 4 ounces finely grated Parmesan see notes
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. When pasta is al dente, reserve 1 cup of starchy cooking water and drain the rest.
- While the pasta is boiling, heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Once hot, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant.
- Add the pepper, zucchini, squash, and asparagus to the skillet and continue cooking for about 5 minutes to soften the vegetables.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
- Add the pasta, ? cup pasta water, and Parmesan to the skillet with the vegetables over low heat and toss to combine. Continue tossing until the cheese has melted and you have a glossy sauce that clings to the pasta. You may need to add additional pasta water, a tablespoon or two at a time to reach the desired consistency.
- Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and combine with the pasta before serving.