Classic Pasta Primavera, with vegetables, a creamy Parmesan sauce and with an optional warm garlic, olive oil and cherry tomato topping.

pasta primavera in bowl

When it comes to cooking at home, it’s always great to find a dish that can work equally well for the different tastes in my home. So today, I’m sharing a recipe that celebrates my love of tomatoes, but is also delicious for my son, who was visiting and would rather hold the tomatoes. It also satisfies my vegetarian daughter :)

This Classic Primavera delivers a delicious bowl for both of us. One with tomatoes for me and one without for him. There are many ways to make a classic Pasta Primavera that everyone loves!

Of course, “Primavera” is all about the vegetables, so I started by collecting some lovely, fresh ingredients at my local Your Independent Grocer in Bracebridge, Ontario. I can always count on finding a wide variety of fresh and local ingredients at my local store, together with a host of other quality ingredients.

pasta primavera ingredients on counter
cutting pasta primavera ingredients on cutting board

The tomatoes in this dish get a special treatment. After being halved, they are combined with some olive oil, fresh basil and garlic and warmed a bit in a saucepan. They are then spooned over the finished dish, infusing the already delicious pasta with not only tomatoes, but with garlic and basil infused olive oil.

spooning warmed tomatoes over pasta primavera

Not a tomato fan? No worries! This dish is just as delicious without the tomatoes and that’s how my son enjoyed his delicious bowl of pasta.

eating pasta primavera

Ingredients and Substitutions

As noted above, collect whatever vegetables you like. Asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, sweet peppers, onion, peas, beans and just about any green, such as spinach, arugula and chard all work well. Simply sub in and out as you like.

Asparagus: the recipe calls for just the tips, or the top 2-inches or so. Don’t thrown out the rest of the asparagus though. Refrigerate and use for soup or stir fries.

Broccoli: Be sure to cut your broccoli into quite small florets, so that they are bite-sized and will cook quickly.

Peas: Frozen peas are fine here, but if you can find some fresh and local ones, they would also be great here.

Recipe Tips

  • I find it easiest to prepare all the vegetable at the start, as the pasta water is heating.
  • Pop the tomatoes into a small saucepan, together with the olive oil, garlic and basil. Then it’s all ready to warm up as the pasta is almost ready.
  • Chop all the other vegetables, onion, garlic and basil. Collect the vegetables that will need blanching together in a bowl to add to the pasta water to blanch. Set the rest next to a bit skillet on the stove, to have them handy.
  • Ingredients such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, peas and beans need a quick blanching before you add them to your pasta, as they won’t cook thoroughly enough just in the skillet. Taking advantage of the boiling water for the pasta allows us to quickly blanch them before the pasta starts cooking. Simply add these vegetables to your boiling water and allow to cook for about 3 minutes, then spoon out with a slotted spoon into a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside and add to your pasta as directed.
  • Don’t forget to reserve a cup of pasta cooking water before draining, to use to thin out your pasta sauce, if necessary.
  • Finally, keep the salt and pepper handy and throughout the preparation of this dish. Generously salt your boiling water for your pasta. Add some salt and pepper to your vegetables and sauce. And finally, taste your finished dish and add a bit more salt and pepper as needed, to really bring all the flavours together.
asparagus at the market
finished pasta primavera in bowl

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Get the Recipe: Classic Pasta Primavera

Full of fresh vegetables, all in a creamy Parmesan sauce and served with a garlic and cherry tomato topping.
5 stars from 9 ratings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 3 servings


  • 9 oz dried pasta, such as spaghetti, tagliatelle, fettuccine or linguine


  • 15-20 asparagus tips
  • 1 stalk broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

For cooking vegetables:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Warm Tomatoes:

  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

For serving:

  • Additional freshly grated Parmesan
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • Start a large pot of water boiling on the stove-top for the pasta (and blanching the vegetables). Add a generous sprinkling of salt.
  • Meanwhile, gather all your vegetables and chop. Add the tomatoes, 1 clove minced garlic, 3 Tbsp basil and 1/4 cup olive oil to a small saucepan. Set aside. Collect the vegetables that will need blanching (asparagus, broccoli and peas) and place in a medium bowl. Set aside. Place the remaining ingredients (red onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and baby spinach next to the stove. Grate the Parmesan and measure out the cream and have handy to the stove as well.
  • When pasta water is boiling, add the vegetables that need blanching into the boiling water and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes (depending on how tender-crisp or tender you want them). Using a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from the boiling water to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop the vegetables from cooking further. Set aside.
  • Add the pasta to the still boiling water. Allow pasta to cook to al dente, per package instructions.
  • While pasta is cooking, heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pinch of red pepper flakes, then add the red onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is just starting to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, another 45 seconds or so. Add the cream, butter and Parmesan and cook, stirring, until combined. Add the reserved, blanched vegetables and cook, stirring, until warmed. (Turn off heat under skillet or remove from heat until pasta is ready, if necessary, to avoid over-cooking the vegetables).
  • When pasta is ready, scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.
  • Turn heat on under saucepan with tomatoes to medium. Allow to come to a simmer, then reduce heat to low to keep warm.
  • Drain pasta and add to the skillet with the sauce and vegetables. Heat over medium heat, tossing with tongs, for about 1 minute. Scatter baby spinach and basil over-top and toss, until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If the mixture seems thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta cooking water as needed, to loosen it.
  • Spoon pasta into serving bowls. Spoon warm tomatoes overtop. Garnish with additional Parmesan and some freshly ground pepper.


Be sure to read the notes above this Recipe Card, where I share some valuable tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe!
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Course: Main Course
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 727kcal, Carbohydrates: 82g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 44g, Saturated Fat: 27g, Cholesterol: 144mg, Sodium: 499mg, Potassium: 964mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 5455IU, Vitamin C: 78.6mg, Calcium: 426mg, Iron: 4.6mg
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