Pesto primavera is a flavorful and filling summer dish that's surprisingly easy to prepare. Pesto and sun-dried tomatoes are tossed with your favorite pasta and sauteed veggies to make this simple meal.
I'm always on the hunt for easy, 30 minute dinner ideas. Zucchini mushroom pasta is one of my favorites. This pesto primavera is perfect for that summer dinner rotation when zucchini and basil are abundant.
This recipe makes use of flavorful ingredients like pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, which keep that grocery list short and simple! Feel free to use your favorite pasta shape, like penne or fettuccine - I used farfalle, or bow-ties, today.
Serve pasta primavera for a quick weeknight meal with the family - this recipe feeds five. Stretch it even further when served with garlic bread and a side salad.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Pasta - Any medium sized pasta works in this recipe. I used farfalle, or bow-ties, but penne, fusilli, or orecchiette are great alternatives.
- Olive oil - Can be substituted with butter or your favorite cooking oil.
- Vegetables - I used zucchini, asparagus, and frozen green peas in my pasta primavera. Any seasonal vegetables will work, like bell pepper, broccoli, brussels sprouts, or summer squash. Slice heartier veggies like brussels sprouts into smaller pieces to speed up the cooking time.
- Pesto - Adds a garlicky, basil flavor to the dish. Homemade pesto (like my zucchini pesto) or store bought pesto both work fine.
- Sun-dried tomatoes - I don't recommend omitting this ingredient. Sun-dried tomatoes add plenty of flavor and an acidic element that cuts through the richness of the pesto.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning add flavor to the dish along with the pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. I don't recommend omitting any of these ingredients for best results.
Tips and tricks
Quick cooking vegetables- Choose vegetables that cook quickly, like asparagus, peas, cherry tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, bell pepper, green beans, and mushrooms. A handful of spinach could also be added along with the pesto if desired. Heartier veggies like brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower need additional cooking time or should be diced smaller.
Reserved pasta water - Pasta water contains starches released by the pasta as it cooks. This starchy water helps create a silky pesto sauce that coats the pasta and veggies.
Garnishes - Top your primavera with grated parmesan cheese, chopped fresh basil, or chopped fresh parsley.
Frequently asked questions
No, primavera is not Italian. Pasta primavera is actually an American dish, invented in the 1970s, that's made with pasta in a cream sauce with seasonal vegetables.
Yes! Homemade pesto generally has a fresher, brighter flavor than store bought pesto. I highly recommend making your own if you have the time and ingredients available.
Leftovers will keep for 2 to 3 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
Pesto primavera is hearty enough to serve on its own for up to five people. To stretch this dish further, serve with some garlic bread, breadsticks, and/or a side salad.
- 8 ounces farfalle pasta, dry
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
- 8 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped into thirds
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup pesto
- 4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- In a pot of salted, boiling water, cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Before draining, reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil. When warm, add zucchini, asparagus, peas, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
- Add cooked pasta, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and reserved pasta water. Toss until evenly coated and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until warm.
- Remove from heat and serve.