This Vegan Pasta Primavera in an easy dish of pasta and vegetables with flavors of lemon and garlic. It’s light, fresh, and flavorful. It can be easily customized with your favorite spring and summer veggies. Ready in just 30 minutes!
Vegan Pasta Primavera is the perfect dish to make in the spring and summer months when farmers markets and backyard gardens are overflowing with a variety of colorful vegetables.
It’s nutritious, flavorful, and easily adapted to work with the vegetables your family enjoys.
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Pasta ~ I like a medium pasta shape for this vegan pasta primavera. The mini penne has been a favorite of mine lately. Penne, rigatoni, ziti, gemelli, fusilli, farfalle, etc., would all be good choices.
Use gluten-free pasta is needed/wanted.
Aromatics ~ Onion and garlic brings tons of flavor to this recipe. I prefer a red onion, but a yellow onion or a sweet onion may be used instead.
Squash ~ Zucchini and yellow summer squash are plentiful and inexpensive in the warmer months. I like a combination of both for color, but you could use just one or the other if that’s what you have.
If you love zucchini, don’t miss these Vegan Zucchini Muffins, Veggie Potato Fritters, Stir Fry Zucchini Noodles or Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bars. For even more, check out this collection of Easy Zucchini Recipes!
Tomatoes ~ Grape or cherry tomatoes are best in this dish. Slice them in half and cook them down so they burst open. The juices from the tomatoes will help to create the “sauce” for the pasta primavera.
Do not use canned tomatoes!
Kale ~ I never miss an opportunity to add leafy greens. They’re so good for you!
Kale is hearty and doesn’t wilt, making it one of my favorites. I used curly kale here, but lacinato or red kale would work as well. Make sure to remove the woody steams and then chop the leaves really well into small pieces.
Spinach or chard can be used instead if you prefer.
Other veggies ~ You’ll also find broccoli and green peas in this vegan pasta primavera.
Other good choices to add or substitute: chopped asparagus, sweet corn, thinly sliced carrots, or bell peppers.
Lemon ~ A squeeze of fresh lemon brightens everything up.
Extras ~ Typical pasta primavera contains parmesan cheese. This dish doesn’t need it, but you certainly can add some homemade vegan parmesan cheese or a store bought variety if you like.
A garnish of fresh herbs and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar punch up the flavors and make this recipe irresistible.
If you like a thicker sauce for your primavera, try adding a dollop of pesto or try my vegan white sauce.
How to make the recipe
Cook the pasta according to package directions in well-salted water until al dente.
Be sure to save about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta!
While the pasta is cooking sauté the vegetables until crisp-tender in a bit of olive oil (or broth for oil-free) with the dried spices and herbs.
Add the frozen peas, cooked pasta, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and reserved pasta cooking water. Toss well.
Serve garnished with fresh herbs, vegan parmesan, and freshly cracked black pepper. And don’t forget a slice or two of vegan garlic bread on the side!
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Freezer: You can also freeze this pasta primavera. Transfer to an air-tight container or freezer-safe plastic zip top bag. It will keep up to 3 months.
Note: The vegetables will lose some of their texture during the freezing/thawing/reheating. It’s a great option for saving leftovers, but I wouldn’t recommend making this dish ahead of time with the sole intention of freezing it for later.
Pro tips for success
~ Generously salt the pasta cooking water! This is the only chance you have to flavor the pasta itself.
~ Cook the pasta until just al dente. Do not overcook!
~ Save 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta! You may not need all of it, but it’s best to have extra just in case. If you forget, use veggie broth in a pinch.
~ Don’t skip the onions and garlic. They provide much of the flavor!
~ Let the tomatoes cook down and burst. The juices from the tomatoes will help to create a “sauce.”
~ Fresh lemon juice is best! Use more or less depending on your tastes.
~ Garnish with fresh herbs, like basil or parsley, for an added flavor boost.
~ Always taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Additional salt, pepper, herbs, lemon juice, balsamic, or vegan parmesan cheese can be added, if needed.
~ To make this vegan pasta primavera gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.
~ To make this dish oil-free, use veggie broth to sauté instead of oil.
Pasta primavera is an American dish typically consisting of pasta and fresh spring vegetables in a light cream based sauce made with parmesan cheese. This vegan pasta primavera has all the delightful flavors of the standard dish with absolutely no dairy.
Medium pasta shapes work best for this dish. Penne, rigatoni, farfalle, fusilli, gemelli, ziti, etc. However, spaghetti or angel hair could be used as well if you prefer.
Yes! This recipe is delicious served hot, cold, or room temperature. It packs perfectly in a lunchbox and would also make a great pasta salad type dish for BBQs, potlucks, or picnics.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Vegan Pasta Primavera
- 12 ounces penne pasta gluten-free, if desired (or pasta of choice)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion halved and sliced thin (or diced)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 head broccoli chopped small
- 1 medium zucchini chopped
- 1 medium yellow summer squash chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 3-4 leaves kale woody stems removed, leaves chopped small
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- juice of ½ lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons) or to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup vegan parmesan cheese optional
- fresh chopped basil or parsley for garnish, optional
- fresh cracked black pepper optional, if desired
- Cook the pasta in well-salted water according to package directions until al dente. SAVE 1 CUP OF THE PASTA COOKING WATER BEFORE DRAINING!
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onions and garlic and sauté 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften.
- Add the broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, dried basil, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Stir well and sauté 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the kale and tomatoes, stir well, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes until the tomatoes start to burst.
- Add the green peas, cooked pasta, juice of ½ lemon, balsamic vinegar and ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir well.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Add another pinch of salt, squeeze of lemon, and/or the vegan parmesan, if desired. Add additional pasta cooking water if you like it looser.
- Serve garnished with fresh herbs and cracked black pepper, if desired.
Nutrition facts calculated with wheat-based pasta and no optional garnishes.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.
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