Updated: May 19, 2021
I have been loving quick and nourishing dinner recipes with all the veggies recently. This Easy Cheesy Pasta Primavera is my newest plant-forward recipe, and it's true to it's name - EASY and on the table in under 40 minutes! In this recipe, fresh spring flavors and comfort food collide! It's a beautiful thing.
What's in This Recipe?
Comfort Food Fit For Warmer Weather!
In warmer weather months, I tend to make more cold meals that hot meals, but when I want something comforting AND fresh this Easy Cheesy Pasta Primavera recipe hits the spot! This pasta dish is...
The combination of fresh spring and summer vegetables, a light and flavorful lemon cream sauce, pecorino Romano cheese, and pasta (the ultimate comfort food) results in a plant-forward dish that checks all of the boxes for a winner winner warm weather dinner.
What is Plant-Forward Eating?
I'm so glad you asked! First, plant-forward eating and strict plant-based eating are not the same thing, but both eating patterns focus on incorporating more foods that come from plants into your diet like fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, and grains.
According to the American Heart Association, a plant-forward eating pattern "emphasizes plant-based foods but is not strictly limited to them. Meat may be included but it’s usually not the main feature of the meal." However, a strict plant-based eating pattern, also known as a vegan diet, excludes all animal products.
The Benefits of Plant-Forward Eating
One of the main benefits of adopting a plant-forward eating pattern is that eating more nutrient dense plant foods and reducing meat intake decreases the risk of developing several diseases and complications including heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
This colorful, vegetarian Easy Cheesy Pasta Primavera is loaded with foods that come from plants - broccolini, bell pepper, onion, garlic, tomatoes, peas, olive oil, and pasta! It also contains dairy from cheese, cream, and butter, but the bulk of the meal comes from plant-based foods. This pasta recipe is a good example of a plant-forward meal.
With carbohydrate-rich pasta, colorful and fiber-filled veggies, fat from olive oil and butter, and protein from green peas and pecorino romano cheese, this pasta recipe yields four servings of a balanced vegetarian meal all on it's own! But if you're looking for a little more variety for your dinner table...
Top your pasta with grilled chicken or shrimp for more protein.
What’s in This Recipe?
Pasta* – contains energizing carbohydrates; wheat, brown rice, chickpea, and lentil pasta varieties are richer in fiber than traditional pasta
Olive oil – rich in unsaturated fatty acids, linked with lower LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and higher HDL cholesterol levels
Onion – contains quercetin and organosulfur compounds
Bell pepper – rich in potassium, vitamins A and C, fiber, folate, iron, and antioxidants
Broccolini or broccoli – contains calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate, iron, selenium, zinc and fiber
Cherry tomatoes – rich in the antioxidant lycopene
Green peas – contains complex carbohydrates, fiber, and plant-based protein
Seasonings – salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and parsley for garnishing
Garlic – has antioxidant properties
Lemon zest – contains prebiotics to promote gut health
Lemon juice – contains vitamin C and acid
White wine vinegar – contains acid to bring out flavor
Heavy cream – adds flavor
Butter – adds flavor
Pecorino Romano cheese – contains calcium, lower in lactose than soft cheeses, provides flavor
Notes: This recipe is vegetarian and can easily be made gluten free* by using gluten free pasta.
Easy Cheesy Pasta Primavera
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
8 oz pasta, dry (I like farfalle or penne for this recipe)*
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped white onion, divided
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1-2" strips
1 cup broccolini or broccoli florets, trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. heavy cream
Dash red pepper flakes
2 tsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup pecorino romano, freshly grated
Fresh parsley (optional garnish)
Bring a pot filled with water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, preheat a skillet with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Once the oil is heated, add 1/4 cup white onion (be sure to reserve 1/4 cup!) and sauté until fragrant. Add the bell peppers and broccolini/broccoli and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
Next, add the tomato halves and green peas to the skillet. Sauté for 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and set aside for later.
Using the same skillet, preheat 1 tbsp. olive oil. Once the oil is heated, add the minced garlic and remaining 1/4 cup white onion to the skillet. Sauté for ~1 minute until fragrant. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar. Stir and cook for ~1 minute. Stir in the cream, a dash of red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.
Return the vegetables to the pan with the sauce. Stir until combine.
Once the pasta is fully cooked and drained, add the pasta, butter, and half the cheese to the pan with the vegetables and sauce. Mix to combine.
Top the pasta with remaining cheese and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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