Pasta Primavera with Spinach Pesto

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This delicious Pasta Primavera with Spinach Pesto is packed with vegetables and homemade pesto for a pasta meal that's healthy and easy to make.

431 CALORIES575g CARBS22g FAT15g PROTEIN
2 Comments

Craving comfort food? Don't miss out on this easy Pesto Primavera Pasta! It can be made with any combination of fresh vegetables and pasta you like. Plus you can customize it with your favorite protein. It's one of those staple meals you will make over and over again. 

I don’t know about you, but as colder weather creeps in and I break out my beloved cozy winter sweaters, I also begin to crave big bowls of pasta. It is such a treat on a cold night. However, to keep things balanced, I always like to pack my pasta dishes with veggies. 

One of the pasta dishes I crave most in the fall is pesto so I used that for inspiration for this veggie-packed Pasta Primavera with Spinach Pesto. To keep things healthy and light, I added a ton of fresh vegetables - zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes – and topped everything with a healthier pesto made with spinach and basil.

The spinach not only adds some extra greens, but it also adds a nice earthy flavor to the pesto. It's delicious with pasta and veggies. If you are craving protein, you could always add some chicken, shrimp, or white beans to the dish.

Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps

  • Pasta: This recipe works with any pasta you like including whole wheat, gluten-free, and traditional pasta. I have also made it with gnocchi, ravioli, and fresh pasta. Just make sure to cook the pasta correctly, especially if using chickpea or lentil pasta that can get mushy quickly.
  • Fresh vegetables: The sauteed vegetables in this recipe add tons of flavor and also nutrients. Any combination of sauteed or roasted vegetables will work. The only vegetable I wouldn't skip is the cherry tomatoes since they also help create some moisture for the sauce. 
  • Spinach pesto: The pesto is what brings the whole dish together. This recipe uses a homemade spinach pesto but you could just as easily swap in store-bought pesto. To make a quicker spinach pesto at home, simply combine store-bought pesto with a few cups of fresh spinach in a blender.
  • Toppings: To finish this pesto pasta recipe, I recommend adding some fresh Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice. You could also add some pine nuts for crunch. 

Recipe Ideas for Pesto Primavera Pasta

There are lots of ways to customize this recipe and make it your own. 

  • Add protein: One of the most common ways to adjust this recipe is to add some protein. For a vegetarian protein option, add some cannellini beans or chickpeas. For an animal-based protein, you could add cooked chicken, salmon, shrimp, or chicken sausage. 
  • Swap in different vegetables: Make this primavera pasta dish with all your favorite vegetables or whatever is in season. It is delicious with all kinds of vegetables including green beans, asparagus, butternut squash, cauliflower, and broccoli.
  • Try different pasta shapes: Changing up the pasta shape or pasta type can change up the flavor. Try it with shells, chickpea pasta, or even cauliflower gnocchi. 

What is primavera?

Technically speaking, the primavera sauce is usually made with chicken broth, Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, basil, salt, and pepper. Normally primavera sauce is served over pasta and vegetables. 

However, pasta primavera now often refers to any pasta dish that is packed with lots of different vegetables.

Pesto primavera pasta is usually a pasta dish with lots of fresh veggies and pesto sauce. 

Can this pesto pasta be served cold?

This actually can be made into a delicious cold pasta salad without too many changes. Make sure to run the pasta under cold water after cooking it. Also, let the vegetables fully cool. Then simply toss everything with the pesto, adding a touch of extra olive oil if needed. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions about this pesto primavera pasta recipe.

Pesto freezes very well and is a great condiment to keep in the freezer. Try freezing it in ice cube trays and then storing in a plastic bag. Then simply add to a hot skillet to defrost and add to any pasta dish. 

Any fresh vegetables can be used in pasta primavera. Primavera actually refers to the sauce that is typically made with chicken broth, heavy cream, basil, and Parmesan cheese. 

If you don't want to make spinach pesto, simply leave the spinach out of the recipe. You can also use any homemade or store-bought pesto you like for the recipe.

The Recipe
Pesto pasta primavera with cooked veggies, pesto, and linguini with fresh basil on the side.

Pasta Primavera with Spinach Pesto

PREP TIME: 15 Min
COOK TIME: 20 Min
TOTAL TIME: 35 Min
2 Comments
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Ingredients

USMETRICS
  • 16 oz pasta
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 summer squash, sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approximately 1/2 lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons water (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

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Instructions

(Hide Photos)
1

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Place in large bowl.

2

For pesto, place spinach, basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, water and red pepper flakes in food processor. Pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

3

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallot, carrots and bell pepper. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Add zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

4

Add vegetables and pesto to pasta. Toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. It is also delicious with extra fresh lemon.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 431
Calories from Fat 199
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 22g
34%
Saturated Fat 2g
10%
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 3mg
1%
Sodium 114mg
5%
Total Carbohydrate 575g
192%
Dietary Fiber 25g
100%
Sugars 8g
Protein 15g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

Notes

If you don't want to make your own pesto, you can either use store-bought pesto or for a spinach pesto, simply blend store-bought pesto with 2-3 cups of fresh spinach.
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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
2 Comments
On Pasta Primavera with Spinach Pesto
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Caitlin
September 4, 2018 - 10:11
I love this! Its nice to have a pasta dish loaded with vegetables, I dont feel so guilty afterwards. The only issue I'm having is that the carrots dont really seem to cook up. I think I will try steaming them over the pasta next time.
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Colleen Gooding
November 17, 2016 - 16:38
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4
Really enjoyed this dish. It had nice flavour and all seasonings and veggies melded wonderfully. Will definetly make this again.
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