Serves a Crowd

Green Pasta Primavera

July 12, 2021
10 Ratings
Photo by Carolina Gelen
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

You’ve probably heard of pasta primavera, but what the heck is it, and where did it come from? It’s a classic, popularized in the 1970s at the famous restaurant Le Cirque, in New York City. The dish never made it on the official menu; it was always a special the guests could ask for. Le Cirque’s pasta primavera uses a variety of vegetables, from plum tomatoes and asparagus tips to mushrooms and zucchini, covered in a hearty cream-based sauce. While the name pasta primavera implies a celebration of spring—“primavera” translates to “spring” in Italian—I find the combination of vegetables to be pretty random. It’s time for an upgrade.

My green pasta primavera recipe is bright and vibrant, taking advantage of the wonderful seasonal produce that spring brings our way. Farmers markets are abundant in crisp alliums leading up to summer—so we’re using lots of leeks, scallions, and green garlic. While their presence might sound overwhelming, I assure you it’s not. This pasta is well balanced by the sunniness of lemon (juice and zest!), the crunch of broccoli, and the freshness of parsley.

When it comes to substitutes, this recipe is forgiving, so feel free to use the best spring produce available in your area. Can’t find green garlic? Use ramps or wild garlic instead. Your go-to grocery store is out of scallions? Don’t hesitate to buy a bunch of chives instead. Make this recipe your own!

You might notice I skipped the traditional heavy cream. I believe cream often dilutes pasta sauces, bringing richness but not much flavor. The butter or olive oil in this recipe brings a perfect level of decadence and flavor to the sauce, while letting the beautiful vegetables shine through.
Carolina Gelen

What You'll Need
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound your favorite pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or melted butter, plus more for serving
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 green garlic stalks, thinly sliced (or 3 garlic cloves, minced)
  • 1/2 broccoli head, chopped
  • 1 handful green beans, thinly sliced, or green peas
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a couple of big pinches of salt, then cook the pasta until al dente (slightly undercooked). Reserve 2 cups of pasta water, then strain the pasta.
  2. Heat the oil or butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions, leek, and garlic. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they soften slightly. Add the broccoli and green beans to the pan and season with salt and pepper (keeping in mind the added pasta water will be salty). Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, grated Parm, cooked pasta, and 1 cup of pasta water to the vegetables. Stir everything together, then cook for 3 to 5 more minutes over medium low heat, until the sauce has emulsified—it should be visibly thicker and creamy. Add more pasta water as needed. Take the pan off heat and mix in the parsley.
  4. Serve with more cheese and oil or butter on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Melissa Y
    Melissa Y
  • Carolina Gelen
    Carolina Gelen
  • MartiO
  • Dhill1112
Carolina is a resident at Food52. She's also one of the hosts of Choose Your Own Recipe Adventure, our YouTube show where our Food52 readers pick the ingredients and techniques for a brand new recipe. Carolina recently immigrated to the U.S. from Transylvania, a place she spent most of her life. She continues to get inspired by the classic Romanian and Hungarian foods she was raised on, creating approachable, colorful, and fun recipes. For more cooking ideas and candid moments, check out her Instagram @carolinagelen.

11 Reviews

Melissa Y. April 26, 2023
So easy and versatile. It’s even better the next day pan fried with some eggs (think fried rice but with noodles). The family gave it two thumbs up too! Next time, I would double the vegetables to make the noodle/veg ratio more 50/50.
MartiO April 18, 2023
Loved this recipe. Especially because it really doesn’t matter what veggies you use. I made this for the first time tonight for my MIL so followed the recipe exactly. Everyone including her loved it! We will make this over and over. Thanks for the epic recipe!
Dhill1112 July 28, 2021
I was watching an episode of Seinfeld and they mentioned pasta primavera. I was curious about the recipe so I looked it up. I’m glad I came across this recipe, it showed me that you don’t have to use the traditional vegetables as in the original recipe. I’m making this tomorrow for dinner. Will use asparagus, snow peas and broccoli instead. I’ve never had leeks, can’t wait to try them. Will keep the scallions and use minced garlic, adding shrimp for protein.
Cmicah June 9, 2021
Perfect Spring/Summer Recipe!
Carolina G. July 12, 2021
marjorie L. May 30, 2021
Carolina G. July 12, 2021
I appreciate that!
swry May 3, 2021
I made this with a couple changes - I pureed basil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil and added to the pasta + veggies, after the parmesan addition. I also cooked ground hot Italian sausage in a separate pan and served on top to add some protein. I love recipes that incorporate lots of veggies and are great for meal prepping for the week - this is a winner!
Carolina G. July 12, 2021
So, so happy you gave this a go and made it your own, that sounds delicious!
Grace.Brown May 2, 2021
This recipe was beautiful, delicious, and simple to prepare. The perfect dish for spring. We will definitely be making it again.
Carolina G. July 12, 2021
I'm so happy to hear that!