This delicious, easy-to-make pasta primavera is a light and healthy dish that’s perfect for spring! It’s loaded with crisp-tender vegetables and tossed in simple olive oil, lemon, and Parmesan cheese sauce. It’s easily adaptable and can be made gluten-free.
- 1 16-ounce box of penne pasta (regular or gluten-free)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup fresh snap pea pods
- 4 medium carrots thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen fava beans
- 1 cup fresh asparagus spears tips
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 medium-sized leeks, cleaned and sliced into half-moons (white and light green parts only)
- 1–2 minced garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
- Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
- Fresh basil, pea tendril, or chive blossoms
- Make the pasta per the package instructions to al dente, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- While the pasta is cooking, blanch the peas, pea pods, carrots, asparagus tips, and frozen fava beans (if using) in a large pot of boiling water until just crisp-tender, about 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and add to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking. If you’re using fresh fava beans, repeat then process with the fava beans. You can use the same water. Once the fava beans are cooked and cooled, slip off the outer, rubbery shell.
- Drain the vegetables and set them aside.
- In a large pan, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks and sauté until the leeks are soft and starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add in the lemon juice, and then toss in the cooked pasta and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water.
- Next, slowly sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese a while stirring constantly. This will help the cheese from clumping. Add more reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary.
- Once the pasta noodles are coated, add the cooked vegetables and the baby spinach. Toss until the spinach starts to wilt.
- Adjust the seasoning and add to individual bowls. Garnish with a sprinkle of cheese and some fresh basil or pea shoots and chive blossoms if you’d like!
Make the recipe gluten-free: To make this recipe gluten-free, replace the pasta with your favorite gluten-free pasta. I love gluten-free penne, and it’s available at most grocery stores.
How to keep cheese from clumping: The best way to make sure you’re cheese doesn’t clump up is to add it slowly while constantly stirring. Also, make sure to use finely grated cheese, not thick sheets or big shredded pieces.
Storage: You can store pasta primavera in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a day or two. When ready to serve, just microwave until just heated through, about 1-2 minutes.
- Calories: 429