This delectably light Pasta Primavera, uses a creamy green pea pesto and a garden of vegetables like snap peas, spring onions, and asparagus to update this classic spring pasta.

Delicious light spring pasta (pasta primavera) with rotini, asparagus, snap peas and spring onions tossed in a creamy green pea pesto.

It’s SPRING!!! Well… technically, it’s been spring for over a month, but the markets are still flush with young greens, and this pasta was so good I couldn’t wait another year to share it with you. Aside from being a visual stunner, it’s loaded with a medley of flavors, textures, and tastes that evoke spring whether you eat it with your eyes open or closed.

History of Pasta Primavera

If you lived anywhere in the US during the 80’s you probably remember Pasta Primavera, along with leg warmers, Queen, and Trapper Keepers. But if the quintessential spring pasta’s popularity seemed to come out of nowhere, that’s because it did. While there’s nothing new about spring themed pasta, the dish named Pasta Primavera, is only about 40 years old.

The dish, which literally translates to “Spring Pasta” was invented by Italian chef Sirio Maccioni, who was cooking at the French restaurant Le Cirque at the time. It was a hodgepodge of spring, and summer vegetables cooked with a cream and butter sauce, originally made for a wealthy customer of his, but it was at Le Cirque where the pasta grew famous, before becoming the butt of culinary jokes about the 80’s.

Pasta Primavera Sauce

The original Pasta Primavera from Le Cirque was made with butter and cream, but this isn’t the 1970’s, and I wanted to do a lighter take on this New York classic. That’s why I’ve repurposed my green pea pesto to sauce this delightfully seasonal pasta. With sweet green peas, and savory Parmigiano-Reggiano, this kelly green pesto is brimming with so much flavor you won’t miss the cream. If you add in the time to make the pesto I know this isn’t exactly a quicky, but the pesto freezes well, so I recommend making a big batch and then portioning and freezing it. That way you can revisit spring, well into summer.

Spring Veggies and Flowers

Snap peas, asparagus, sage flowers, arugula flowers, and green peas on a wood for spring pasta.
Although the original Pasta Primavera included spring veggies like asparagus and green peas, it also included a jumble of vegetables from other seasons like tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms. I wanted a simpler spring pasta that reflected the season both in taste and appearance, which is why I opted for a medley of asparagus, snap peas and spring onions. By quickly blanching the asparagus and snap peas before boiling the pasta, it locks their vibrant green color in and retains their crisp texture.

Then all that’s needed is a quick saute with some sweet spring onions to marry the veggies, pasta, and pesto. To complete spring scene I had some arugula and sage blossoms leftover from another shoot, so I garnished with the flowers. The thing is, the flowers turned out to be more than an edible garnish. The arugula flowers add a peppery bite and hint of bitterness that’s a wonderful contrast to the sweet spring veggies, while the sage blossoms add an herbal splash of sage to the dish. If you can’t find these particular blossoms, you could substitute others, or even leave them out altogether and your spring pasta will still be amazing.

Edible arugula and sage blossoms on a blue plate for garnishing spring pasta.

For herbs, I added a few sprigs of Chervil which adds a wonderfully mild fennel flavor to the pasta, but basil, flat-leaf parsley, or tarragon would all work well here.

Finally, I had a flat of fresh bafun uni from up north sitting in my fridge, so I used it to add a splash of creamy brine to the pasta. Bafun uni is smaller and more delicate than the ordinary murasaki uni (purple uni), but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in sweetness and umami. The pasta is delicious without it, so if you want to make this vegetarian, or you’re not that adventurous, you can leave the uni out (or replace it with another protein).

Perfect Spring Pasta Shape

The unbeatable combo of spring veggies with pasta tossed in a creamy green pea pesto makes this drool-worthy spring pasta one of my favorites.
I used Rotini, a spiral-shaped pasta, because it’s so good at holding onto chunky pesto like this. Other curvy pasta like Fusilli, Gemelli, Campanelle, and Farfalle would work just as well, and if all you have in the pantry is spaghetti, it will do in a pinch.

Spring Pasta Salad

Pasta is usually best when hot, but this one works great as a pasta salad (minus the uni). Just follow the recipe up to step 6, and then toss everything together in a bowl along with the pesto. You can add a bit of lemon juice if you’d like but the acid will cause the green color to dull over time, so it’s best to add it just before you serve it.

Spring Pasta (Pasta Primavera)It’s SPRING!!! Well… technically, it’s been spring for over a month, but the markets are still flush with young greens, and this pasta was so good I couldn’t wait another year to share it with you. Aside from being a visual stunner, it’s loaded with a medley of flavors, textures, and tastes that evoke spring … Continue reading “Spring Pasta (Pasta Primavera)”

Summary

  • CourseEntree
  • CuisineItalian
  • Yield3 servings
  • Cooking Time10 minutes
  • Preperation Time5 minutes
  • Total Time15 minutes

Ingredients

90 grams
snap peas
90 grams
asparagus (trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces)
1 tablespoon
olive oil
75 grams
spring onions (sliced)
220 grams
Rotini (or other curvy pasta)
1 batch
Green Pea Pesto
sage flowers (optional, for garnish)
arugula flowers (optional, for garnish)
chervil (optional, for garnish)
uni (optional, for garnish)

Steps

  1. Make a batch of Green Pea Pesto.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water.
  3. Blanch the asparagus and snap peas for 20 seconds and then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice bath to chill. Drain well.
  4. In the water, you used to blanch the vegetables, boil the pasta for one minute less than the package directions.
  5. Slice the blanched snap peas in half at an angle.
  6. Spring onions in a frying pan with olive oil for making spring pasta.
    When the pasta has 3 minutes left, start heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the onions and saute until translucent, but still crisp (about a minute).
  7. Spring onions, snap peas, and asparagus in a frying pan, for spring pasta.
    Add the blanched snap peas and asparagus and toss to heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Rotini pasta tossed with green pea pesto, snap peas, spring onions and asparagus in a frying pan.
    When the pasta is done, drain and add to the pan with the snap peas and asparagus. Add the pesto and toss to coat evenly (you may not need all of the pesto).
  9. Plate the spring pasta and top with the sage flowers, arugula flowers, chervil and uni)