Pasta Primavera
Credit: Credit: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Pasta and fresh vegetables

It barely needs to be pointed how versatile pasta is.  Italians seem to be able to dream up so many different ways to enjoy this staple that it’s quite mind-boggling when you sit down to think about it.  And when you add the different pasta shapes into the mix, then you could eat pasta every day for weeks without having the same dish twice.

The perception that there is a pasta dish for any occasion and any time of year is largely true.  No.  Actually, it’s completely true.  And there are some recipes that just evoke the season perfectly.  Today’s is an old favorite and speaks to us of Spring.  Pasta Primavera or “Spring Pasta” uses young spring vegetables to perfection. 

But, of course, you can have it any time of year and use many of the vegetables you find at any time.  It’s also a great break from red sauces, beloved of so many a pasta lover.  Pasta Primavera presents a “white sauce” option that’s vegetarian, healthy and delicious.

This old favorite is a classic and a personal favorite of mine, enjoyed after Bruschetta or Crostini.  Enjoy it with a crisp white wine, such as a Riesling.


To serve 6, you need the following ingredients

2 small carrots
2 spring onions
150g / 6oz / 1 cup courgettes
2 tomatoes
75g / 3oz / ½ cup shelled peas, fresh or frozen
75g / 3oz / ½ cup green beans
1 yellow capsicum/pepper (or red or green capsicum/pepper)
60ml extra virgin olive oil
25g / 1oz butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
5-6 leaves fresh basil, which you should tear into pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g / 1 ¼ lbs of short pasta (either plain or coloured).  You could choose fusilli (spirals), penne or farfalle (butterflies), all of which are good
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


1. Cut all the vegetables into small bite size pieces.  As it is important that the vegetable pieces cook evenly, you should ensure they are all of roughly the same size
2. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and butter
3. Add the chopped vegetables to the oil and butter and cook them over a moderate heat for 5-6 minutes.  Stir the vegetables occasionally
4. Add the garlic and basil to the fry pan and season with the salt and freshly ground black pepper
5. At this point, cover the frying pan and cook the vegetables for another 6-8 minutes or until they have just become tender
6. Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until it is al dente.  Before draining the pasta, reserve about a cup of the pasta water and set aside
7. Pour the strained al dente pasta into the frying pan with the sauce and mix it all well to distribute the sauce and vegetables evenly.  If the sauce seems too dry to you, add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water
8. Serve the pasta with its vegetables in individual plates and pass around the Parmesan for your guests to add if they desire

Best enjoyed with a crisp white wine, like a Riesling.