Creamy farfalle primavera pasta is an excellent vegetarian-friendly meatless pasta dish loaded with fresh vegetables and a creamy lemon parmesan sauce. Make a big batch and enjoy leftovers for easy lunches.
I am always looking for ways to get more vegetables into my family and there is one way that is usually a sure fire trick: mix them into anything with pasta.
This easy farfalle primavera pasta recipe is absolutely loaded with tons of fresh vegetables that are perfectly in season.
Tossed with my kids' favorite pasta shape -- bowties or butterfly noodles, however you want to call them -- and flavored with a delicate lemon cream sauce they can't resist.
This pasta recipe makes a very large batch and it was plenty for a full family dinner with lots of leftovers for easy lunches for me for a few days.
- Why This is the Best Recipe
- The Primavera Vegetables
- Prep the Vegetables First
- Set Up the Assembly Line
- Roast the Hearty Vegetables
- Cook the Farfalle
- Saute the Delicate Vegetables
- Make the Lemon Cream Sauce
- Assemble the Farfalle Primavera
- Serving Suggestions
- More Pasta Recipes
- More Vegetable Recipes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Why This is the Best Recipe
Our family cooks a ton of pasta but I think this is the best farfalle primavera recipe because:
- Perfectly Timed: I've written the recipe so that all the ingredients are finished at just the same time.
- Perfect Texture: When you're cooking this many different vegetables, it can be difficult to get the texture right for each and every one. I've figured out the best way to ensure they all have a perfect crisp-tender texture.
- Loaded with Flavor: All these garden fresh veggies are packed with flavor and nutrients. It is such a colorful pasta dish!
- TONS of Variations: Don't miss my list below of easy ways to make simple tweaks to the recipe for delicious new dinner ideas.
- Reheats Well: After the effort you put in to make it, not a single bite needs to go to waste. Leftovers reheat wonderfully.
There is definitely a lot going on in this pasta recipe, but I pinkie swear that it will be very easy to assemble in the end.
All you need to make the pasta and cream sauce is:
- Farfalle Pasta: Bowties, butterflies, this pasta shape has several nicknames. You could substitute any short noodle you prefer like penne, rigatoni, or cavatappi
- Olive Oil
- Minced Garlic
- White Wine
- Heavy Cream
- Italian Herb Seasoning
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
The Primavera Vegetables
There are so many vegetables included in this pasta dish, that there is definitely room for swapping or omitting something your family doesn't enjoy.
You could double up on one and skip another if that works best for you.
- Broccoli: I used a broccoli crown, but pre-chopped florets would make it easier to prepare.
- Red Bell Pepper: Or any color bell pepper you love.
- Carrot: A whole carrot works best but you could cut baby carrots if you have them.
- Red Onion: I love the color and flavor this adds but a white or yellow onion would work, too.
- Yellow Squash
- Cherry Tomatoes: A whole tomato could work in a pinch, but would be more difficult to cook than cherry tomatoes are. I'd recommend chopping the tomato and roasting it on the sheet pan instead of sautéing them if you make that swap.
Prep the Vegetables First
Timing is everything with this dish. To ensure your final pasta dinner is served with the perfect texture and everything hot at once, I recommend following my cooking schedule.
Start by prepping all the vegetables you plan to use.
The chopping is the hardest, most time-consuming part. The rest of the dinner will be very easy to prepare.
Set Up the Assembly Line
Set a large pot of water on to boil. Add a pinch of salt so it flavors the pasta when you cook it.
Set a large skillet with olive oil over a burner and place the prepared squash and zucchini and cherry tomatoes next to it.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
When the oven is preheated and the water is boiling, you're ready to begin cooking.
Roast the Hearty Vegetables
Add the broccoli, carrot, bell pepper, and red onion to a large baking sheet.
Toss with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Roast the vegetables at 425°F for 20 minutes.
When the timer beeps, simply turn off the oven and let them rest inside to keep warm if you need more time to finish the other parts of the dish.
If you end up loving these veggies as much as I do, you may want to serve them with other recipes. In that case, I shared the separate recipe card for roasted broccoli and carrots here.
Cook the Farfalle
As soon as you put the hearty vegetables into the oven to roast, pour the farfalle pasta into the boiling water.
Cook it for 30 seconds - 1 minute LESS than listed on the package directions so it remains firm when tossed with the cream sauce later.
Just before the pasta is finished cooking, use a measuring cup to reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Drain the pasta and return the empty pot to the stovetop. This is where you'll assemble the final dish.
Saute the Delicate Vegetables
Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the chopped zucchini and yellow squash and cook for 7 - 9 minutes.
Do not stir the vegetables too often, you want them to develop a golden brown char that only happens when they sit in the hot oil.
Simply toss them once or twice so they cook evenly on all sides.
When they are finished, scrape them into the now-empty pasta pot on the stove.
Add the cherry tomatoes to the now-empty skillet and turn the heat down to medium-low.
You can add another drizzle of olive oil if necessary.
Cook the tomatoes for 3 - 4 minutes or until the skins just begin to wrinkle.
Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds.
Scrape the garlic and tomatoes into the pasta pot with the zucchini and squash.
Make the Lemon Cream Sauce
Add the white wine to the now-empty skillet. Use it to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Simmer the wine until it has reduced by half.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon and add it to the skillet.
Add the heavy cream and the Italian herb blend to the skillet and stir.
Whisk and simmer the sauce until it has just slightly thickened.
Scrape all the sauce into the pasta pot with the reserved vegetables.
Assemble the Farfalle Primavera
Now it is time to finish the dish.
In your pasta pot, you've added the sautéed squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and garlic as you finished them.
Pull the roasted vegetables from the oven and add them to the pasta pot.
Add the lemon cream sauce from the skillet to the pot.
Gently toss it all together.
Finally, add the cooked farfalle to the vegetables and sauce and gently toss to coat and warm through.
If the pasta feels too dry, you can add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen it up.
However, be careful you don't add too much of the water or the pasta will absorb the liquid and become overly mushy.
If you're using the shredded parmesan cheese, now is the time to sprinkle it over the pasta and toss again.
I absolutely love this farfalle primavera as the recipe is written, but there is definitely room for some delicious variations:
Pasta Chicken Primavera: Add chopped cooked chicken to the pot with the vegetables before adding the pasta. You could use chopped broiled chicken tenderloins or baked chicken breasts that have been seasoned with an Italian herb or lemon pepper seasoning.
Tortellini Primavera: Use 1 pound of cheese tortellini instead of regular pasta. Be extra careful that you cook it for the least amount of time because it is a delicate pasta to toss with all those veggies. The cheese filling would taste amazing in this dish.
Change the Pasta Shape: I think shorter noodles work best with the veggies in this dish but you could honestly use any pasta you love. Spaghetti, linguine, penne, rigatoni, fettuccine, all make lovely pasta primavera.
Gnocchi Primavera: Change things up a bit more and add cooked gnocchi instead of pasta!
Pasta Primavera Salad: If you prefer a cold pasta salad, you could prepare all the veggies as listed and just skip the lemon cream sauce altogether. Instead, toss the cooked pasta and primavera veggies with Italian vinaigrette dressing.
This is a wonderful all-in-one dinner. You've got tons of fresh veggies and a comforting bowl of pasta all together.
If you need something more to complete your menu, I'd recommend serving this alongside a batch of homemade garlic bread or an easy side like slices of cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto ham.
Creamy Farfalle Primavera
- 1 pound short pasta like penne or farfalle
For the Primavera Vegetables:
- 6 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 broccoli crown chopped into bite-sized florets
- 1 red bell pepper sliced into thick strips
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced into short strips
- 1 small red onion sliced into thick strips
- 1 zucchini sliced in quarters lengthwise and then cut into thick pieces
- 2 yellow squash sliced in quarters lengthwise and then cut into thick pieces
- 1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
For the Primavera Sauce:
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 lemon juiced
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb blend
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese optional
Prep the Oven
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and place a large pot of water to boil over high heat on the stovetop. Add a generous pinch or two of kosher salt to the water. You want the water boiling and the oven ready to go at the same time since you will add the veggies to the oven at the same time as you add the pasta to the boiling water so that the dinner finishes together.
Roast the Hearty Vegetables
- Add the chopped broccoli, red peppers, carrots, and red onion to a large baking sheet. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil the vegetables and toss them to coat. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt and pepper over the top.
- Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes. When they are finished, just turn the oven off and let them sit if you still need time to finish the pasta sauce.
Cook the Pasta
- As soon as you add the vegetables to the oven, pour the pasta into the boiling water. Cook the pasta according to the package directions but on the shortest time possible. You may even want to cook it for 30 seconds - 1 minute LESS than instructed so it is very firm since it will absorb the liquid from the sauce and vegetables and you want the pasta to be al dente when you serve it.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta's cooking water before you strain the pasta.
- Once you drain the pasta, return the empty large pot to the stovetop. This is where you'll store the cooked vegetables as you prepare to toss the final dish together.
Saute the Delicate Vegetables & Build the Sauce
- Shortly after you've added the pasta to the boiling water, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the zucchini and squash. Stir to coat in the oil and cook for 7 - 9 minutes. To get the vegetables perfectly browned, don't stir them too often. Let them toast in the oil and just stir them a few times so both sides are softened.
- Scrape the cooked squash and oil into the now empty pasta pot and set it aside.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the cherry tomatoes and stir. Let the tomatoes cook in the oil for 3 - 4 minutes or until warmed through and the skins just start to wrinkle.
- Add the garlic to the pan and stir. Cook for 30 seconds. Scrape the tomatoes and garlic into the pasta pot with the cooked squash.
- Add the wine to the skillet and whisk to deglaze the pan. Once the wine has reduced and thickened a little bit, squeeze the lemon juice into the skillet and stir.
- Pour the heavy cream and add the Italian herb blend into the skillet and whisk until the sauce has combined and slightly thickened. Scrape the sauce into the pot with the cooked vegetables.
Assemble the Pasta
- Scrape all the roasted vegetables from the oven into the pasta pot. Toss briefly to coat in the pasta sauce.
- Add the pasta to the pot of vegetables and sauce. Toss gently to coat. If the mixture feels too dry, drizzle a little of the reserved cooking water to the dish, just a tablespoon or so at a time as needed.
- Serve immediately with shredded parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top (optional).
Variations:This is a fantastic vegetarian-friendly dinner idea but you could also serve it with your favorite grilled or baked chicken, shrimp, or fish if you want to add a bit of protein to your meal. Crushed red pepper flakes can be added to the pan of roasted vegetables if you prefer a little spice to your meal.
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