Meatless Monday – Pasta Primavera with Summer Squash, Peas and Arugula

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Primavera means Spring in Italian and the popular Pasta Primavera traditionally is pasta, usually spaghetti but other pasta shapes can be used, tossed with a variety of spring vegetables like asparagus, tomatoes and fresh herbs.  In spite of it’s name, it doesn’t mean you can only make this for dinner in the spring.  Pasta Primavera is a very versatile dish which allows for a wide range of vegetables to be used when they are at their best and their cheapest.  Throughout the year, the dish will change depending on whatever is in season.  I typically sauté whatever fresh vegetables looked the best at the market with garlic and olive oil, then braise in a bit of vegetable broth to make a nice sauce.  If my husband isn’t around, sometimes I will swirl in a spoonful of plain yogurt to add creaminess, then top with parmesan.  Yum!

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Today’s pasta has the gorgeous baby squash and zucchini that I couldn’t resist at the market due to their pure cuteness, as well as peas.  I didn’t see any good fresh peas so I used frozen, which are a good option.  They are frozen right after picking so sometimes they are actually fresher than ‘fresh’ peas that have been sitting around for a while. If you are using fresh peas in a pod, choose pods that are smaller.  The large pods are often filled with over mature peas that are tough and woody and only good in soups and stews.   The smaller pods usually have younger, sweeter peas.   I also added fresh basil and mint plus cherry tomatoes and lemon zest from my garden.

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To make this a healthier dish, use a whole grain pasta.  It’s easy to find good pasta made from whole grains like rice, quinoa or amaranth, all of which provide more protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber than pasta made from white flour. Don’t be fooled by packaging on regular pasta that says ‘fortified with iron or other nutrients’. That just means that nutrients like B vitamins  were removed during the refining process, and some of them are added back in.   Whole grain pasta has come a long way from when it used to be soft and gluey, so give it a try if you haven’t.  Livestrong suggests going half regular and half whole grain pasta if you’re having trouble making the switch to whole grain.

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Pasta Primavera with Summer Squash, Peas and Arugula

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3/4 lb dried penne pasta
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas, shelled
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small summer squash, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 red chili pepper(or dash of red pepper flakes – optional)
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
1/4 cup fresh mint, cut into ribbons
1-2 cups arugula or spinach
2 large shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsn lemon zest
3 Tbsn butter, olive or coconut oil
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
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  • Saute the shallots, chilis and garlic in butter or oil until soft, several minutes.  Add vegetable broth and let reduce.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to directions.  Drain and reserve 1 cup pasta water.

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  • Add zucchini and summer squash to the shallot mixture and cook 2 to 3 minutes.  Then add peas.

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  • Add cooked pasta to vegetable mixture and stir to reheat.  Add a bit of pasta water if needed.

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  • Add cherry tomatoes, arugula, basil, mint and lemon zest and let wilt.  Add salt if necessary.  Depending on the saltiness of your vegetable broth, it may not be needed.

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  • Top with fresh parmesan, if desired.

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8 thoughts on “Meatless Monday – Pasta Primavera with Summer Squash, Peas and Arugula

  1. Hey Sis, Tomatoes are not Spring, nor are zucchini . Pasta Verano time is now. Pasta autumno is in a few months.

    Are you going to be at Susie’s?

    Love Paul

    Barbara Sherman – Paul Vandenberg Paradisos del Sol Winery – The Farmery 3230 Highland Dr, Zillah, WA 98953 – 509.829.9000 Come Taste Paradise!


    • Hi Paul. Thanks for checking out my blog post. I call it Pasta Primavera all year even though it’s inaccurate. I just change what goes in it. Perhaps I’ll start calling it Pasta Verano. When I researched the history of Pasta Primavera, several articles talked about asparagus and tomatoes being traditional. Maybe tomatoes are ready earlier in Italy than here.


  2. Oh! Frozen peas!!!!!! It’s Pasta Verano, beans,girl, beans!

    Barbara Sherman – Paul Vandenberg Paradisos del Sol Winery – The Farmery 3230 Highland Dr, Zillah, WA 98953 – 509.829.9000 Come Taste Paradise!


  3. Oh, and it better with pork belly!

    Barbara Sherman – Paul Vandenberg Paradisos del Sol Winery – The Farmery 3230 Highland Dr, Zillah, WA 98953 – 509.829.9000 Come Taste Paradise!


  4. Lovely pasta! I secretly envy your tomato harvest. Mine are frequently vandalized by a pair of bunnies and some other wildies. I have to harvest green tomatoes to let it ripe on my counter top. I love them ripening on the plant. Enjoy your growing season and fresh food made with them. They do taste extra delicious!


    • My backyard is like wild animal kingdom. We have raccoons, skunks, all kinds of other little critters that like to steal my veggies, so I have netted most of them so you might try that. I’m still testing what works best to protect my harvest. I don’t mind if they take a few but they get greedy.


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