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Penne Pasta Primavera is a delicious and healthy meal that is full of crunchy veggies and tender pasta. Finished off with a simple sauce with lots of fresh lemon juice and topped with Parmesan cheese, this easy meal will quickly become a family favorite.
I will be the first to admit that eating vegetables isn’t exactly my favorite thing. My preference is to eat them raw, but sometimes you have to mix it up a little. That’s where this Penne Pasta Primavera comes in.
The veggies are cooked just enough to make them easy to eat, but they still have a bite to them. I cannot stand mushy vegetables! A simple sauce of chicken broth and lemon juice coats the al dente penne pasta and the veggies to give them a nice boost of flavor. This is a perfect lunch to make that will last you the whole week, making it perfect for meal prepping. It’s also great with chicken or shrimp for a complete meal.
How to Make Penne Pasta Primavera
This easy Pasta Primavera is quick and simple with just a few fresh ingredients. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, making it perfect for busy weeknights or simple meal prep. The key is to cook the pasta and the veggies just right, and it can take some practice since every kitchen and stove is different.
Here are some tips to getting your veggies and pasta just right for this Penne Pasta Primavera:
- Don’t overcook them! This seems like a given but it’s really important to follow the instructions on this one. I add my veggies one at a time based on the length of time needed for proper cooking. Root vegetables, like carrots and onions, take several minutes longer to cook than squash or asparagus. Don’t throw all the veggies in the pan at once! I start with the onions because they can be cooked the longest without them getting icky, then carrots, red peppers, broccoli, and asparagus or zucchini (depending on what I’m able to find at the store). I am not a fan of peas but a lot of pasta primavera recipes call for them so you can add some at the end (just defrost frozen peas in the microwave and add them in with the asparagus).
- Don’t overcook the pasta! Again, seems like a no-brainer right? But cooking pasta just right can be tricky. You want it to have that bite to it and not be all mushy (yuck), but not still be raw in the middle. This dish is a little forgiving in that respect though because the pasta will continue cooking in the sauce a little bit, so you actually want to undercook it by about a minute before transferring it to your skillet.
- Season, season, season! I know a lot of people who are afraid to add salt while they’re cooking. But don’t be afraid of it! It takes practice to figure out the right amounts. When it comes to cooking pasta, be generous. I usually add about 2 teaspoons of salt to the boiling water. The pasta soaks up the water as it cooks, giving it a nice flavor. For the veggies, add a pinch of salt after you’ve added the last veggie into the skillet. I keep a jar of kosher salt nearby when I’m cooking so I can grab a little bit when I’m cooking to season my food. This works much better than using a salt shaker as you can see exactly how much you are adding to your dish.
Once your veggies are cooked, transfer them to a plate and set it aside. Pour some chicken broth and lemon juice in the skillet and bring it to a boil, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet as you go. That’s where the flavor is! Once the sauce has started to reduce, add the pasta and let it simmer for several minutes. The starch from the pasta will help thicken the sauce and the boiling sauce will finish cooking the pasta – it’s a win-win! Once the sauce has reduced some more, add the veggies back in and toss it all around to coat everything in that simple, yummy sauce. Grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top and you’re ready to serve.
Want to know what we serve with our Penne Pasta Primavera? Try my easy, super tender, and juicy Baked Chicken Breasts, or this Lemon Pepper Shrimp!
Penne Pasta Primavera Recipe
- 2 cups uncooked Penne Pasta
- Olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 large carrot thinly sliced on the bias
- 1 ½ cups broccoli florets
- 1 red bell pepper cut into thin strips
- 1 cup asparagus or zucchini cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- Juice from 1 lemon about ¼ cup
- Salt and pepper
- Parmesan Cheese optional
- Fresh minced parsley optional
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne pasta to just before al dente (1 minute less than package instructions). Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water, drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook until translucent; 1-2 minutes. Stir in vegetables in the following order, cooking and stirring for 1-2 minutes after each addition: Carrots, broccoli, red bell pepper, asparagus or zucchini, minced garlic. Add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet if it starts looking a little dry, usually just before the asparagus. Season vegetables with a pinch of salt and pepper, then transfer to a plate and set aside.
- To the skillet, add a tablespoon of butter, ¾ cup chicken broth, ¼ cup lemon juice and ¼ of cup pasta water. Bring to a boil and simmer until slightly reduced; 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pasta and continue to simmer until sauce is reduced by half; 3-4 minutes. Stir in vegetables and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh minced parsley and serve with lemon wedges if desired.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
Here’s another delicious penne pasta recipe to try:
Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta with Chicken
For more easy pasta recipes, check these out:
- Classic Pasta Carbonara
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Lemon Garlic Chicken and Vegetable Pasta
- Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta
Excellent recipe! Simple, easy to make and so tasty. Excellent tips for undercooking the pasta, order of adding various veggies and quantities of ingredients on point. So many possibilities with various summer veggies. Thanks again!
You are so welcome Mira! Thank you for the awesome feedback.
Loved it. I added mushrooms and extra lemon since I have to cut back on salt. Took a bit more time to reduce the liquids before combining with the veggies.
Love the feedback Bernda! Thanks for stopping by.
Is it OK to use frozen veggies? Any changes to do that?
You could just add frozen veggies and proceed with the steps after cooking the vegetables. It could add extra water though.
Can this be made the day before and warmed up to serve? Thanks!
So yummy!! I’ve made this many times and it’s just delicious. I am vegan so I just use vegan butter/parm cheese. Delish!
Love the feedback Sarah! Thanks for stopping by.
Made this last night. It was really good. I used a frozen vegetable mix, broccoli cauliflower, carrots. I didn’t have parmesean cheese. I’m sure that would have been good. Even my picky niece liked it. It’s on our keeper list. It’s a very versatile recipe. It was a full meal but we might add some chicken next time.
That’s awesome Vickey! Love the feedback. Thanks for stopping by.
Doubled the recipe approximately to allow for leftovers this week. I used frozen carrots and broccoli, fresh sweet peppers, and zucchini. Super good. Added the Parmesan, parsley, and added fresh lemon zest.
Love the feedback Metta! Thanks for stopping by.
This meal is amazing!!!!! I made it today and love it also very easy and quick to make. 5 stars from me
Love the feedback Deedee! Thanks for stopping by.
Oh my goodness, this is an excellent recipe. I didn’t even miss the meat. It’s full of flavor and the vegetables are tender crisp. Thank you for posting this recipe, Kristin.
You are so welcome Charlotte! Thanks for stopping by.
My new favorite summer dinner, great recipe!
Nice! Thanks for stopping by Alexandria.
What a wonderful meal. Full of flavor
Awesome feedback JoAnnn! Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you! I made this for dinner tonight, and everyone loved it. My son (usually a picky eater) even asked for seconds! Finishing the pasta in the lemon/broth mixture really gives it a lot of flavor.
You are so welcome Heather! Thanks for the awesome feedback!
Made this on an unusually warm winter day in Idaho; it tasted like a little bit of summer! This recipe is delicious and light. I might try adding some chicken next time.
Awesome feedback Abbey! Thanks for stopping by.
What is the calorie count per serving?
Roughly 185 calories when the pasta is divided into 4 servings.
Firefighter husband and I are on a workout binge in this crazy heat. This is the perfect blend of fresh, citrus, comfort and carb loading we need. It’s a regular!!!
Delicious!!! Making again this weekend for the 2nd time!
That’s awesome Colleen! Thanks for stopping by.
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