Pasta Primavera is a classic dish with so many Springtime vibes, and all the veggies you could ask for. This version uses rigatoni with vibrant fresh herbs and a hint of brightness from lemon zest. The best part……it’s on the table in 30 minutes!
Rigatoni Primavera. Has anything ever sounded so good? I am always looking for ways to get my boys to eat their veggies, and they seem especially partial to anything involving pasta and cheese. Rigatoni Primavera seems like as nice a choice as any!
When the warmer months hit, I find myself trending back to lighter dishes that are heavy on the vegetables. Yes, this dish does have a sauce made with heavy cream, but the herbs and the lemon zest lighten up an otherwise sometimes heavy sauce surprisingly well.
Why Rigatoni? Many of the versions of pasta primavera that are out there call for a longer noodle. I like using something shorter like Rigatoni because it is a similar size to the chopped veggies, and the whole dish is easier to eat that way. With a long noodle, the little florets of broccoli and other veggies just get lost swimming in a sea of stringy noodles.
I also happen to love the way this particular pasta shape clings to the sauce and soaks it up while leaving enough remaining to coat the vegetables.
If you’ve made pasta primavera before but have never made rigatoni primavera, I highly recommend trying it this way!
You can use snow peas or sugar snap peas. Try not to skip them if you can help it, they add a nice sweetness. If you are using snow peas, you can shell some of them if you like (pictured below) or leave the shells on.
Orange Bell Pepper
These have a really nice flavor and add so much color. You can of course use red, yellow, or green if you can’t find orange.
I find that the cherry tomatoes are much easier to eat if you cut them in half lengthwise, but you can leave them whole if you like. I used all red ones in this recipe, but the rainbow or heirloom would be a lovely splash of color.
I really like broccoli in this dish. It goes well with the other veggies. Be sure to use smaller florets, or cut larger ones into small pieces so they are easier to eat and cook a bit faster.
Heavy Whipping Cream
This really is a key ingredient. Not only does it help create a creamy sauce for the rigatoni primavera, but the sauce is less likely to break with heavy cream than with half and half. I have tried half and half and the results are not as good.
The sauce has more of a tendency to curdle and it is not as creamy using anything other than heavy cream. With the technique used for making the sauce in this recipe, it’s important not to substitute something else for the cream.
The butter is important here as well. Unsalted is better because it will help you control the amount of salt in the recipe.
Garlic, Salt, and Pepper
Don’t go too crazy on the garlic here. It can overpower the other flavors. I find the same to be true with the pepper. Too much and it’s all you can taste.
This really rounds out the recipe! If you want to try using a little more than what is called for in the recipe, by all means go for it. Even with the lemon zest, it’s still possible to have too much of a good thing. But an extra teaspoon or so wouldn’t hurt if you want a little more punch.
The Fresh Herbs
I love fresh herbs, and I add them to everything I cook as much as I can. In my opinion, the herbs really add a lot of flavor here so don’t skip them! If you don’t like one herb or the other that are used here, feel free to use more of one and leave out the other.
If you are not a fan of chives or dill, basil would be nice here, or some fresh thyme. But please please don’t skip the fresh herbs, they are fantastic here!
I love the fresh herbaceous nature of dill, and its bright and kicky flavor. Too much and it takes over, but I found the amount called for in the recipe is just right.
You may notice the absence of onion in this recipe. That is what the chives are for. They impart a delicate onion note without all the pungency of your typical onion. Even if you leave out the dill, do your best to include the chives.
If you can’t find them fresh, dried chives will work. If you have to go with dried, stir them right into the sauce so they can soften rather than adding them at the end the way you would the fresh.
How to Make Rigatoni Primavera
I like to have all my veggies chopped before I start making the sauce. This ensures that I can give the sauce my undivided attention.
This sauce is pretty simple! Once the butter is melted, add the cream and whisk to combine them, add your seasonings (minus the fresh herbs) and the cheese and Boom! You’re done and ready to add the veggies.
I like to put my pot of water for the pasta on to boil while I am waiting for my pan for the sauce to warm up to melt the butter.
If you time things right, the pasta will be cooked right about the time you are ready to add the vegetables to the sauce.
Then, you can drain the pasta while the vegetables are warming through and toss it right in to the pan with the sauce and stir.
Be sure to add the fresh herbs right at the end, this way they retain their flavor. If you want to add extra cheese, add extra cheese!
I like to add the vegetables right to the sauce just before the cooked pasta is added. They will not cook all the way through this way but that’s actually what I like. I am all about the crunch of the veggies! The heat from the sauce will wilt them just a touch, so they are slightly cooked. I think if they are cooked too long they get soggy.
The potential variations for this creamy pasta primavera recipe are almost too many to count. Want to make roasted vegetable pasta primavera? You can roast the veggies with a tablespoon of mild flavored oil such as avocado and pop them in a 450 degree oven for about ten minutes.
Should you decide to roast the vegetables, be sure to toss them in last after you have stirred the pasta into the sauce to avoid overcooking the veggies.
The vegetable variations are too many to count. You can try any color of bell pepper, asparagus, thin sliced or julienned carrots, shaved fennel bulb, zucchini, yellow squash, snow peas, or almost anything else you can imagine.
Want to try another pasta shape? Rotini would be great as well as penne. If you prefer a longer noodle, then this simply becomes linguine primavera or fettuccine primavera. Though as I previously stated, I think this dish just works better with a shorter noodle.
If you want to add meat, I think a little smoked salmon tossed in right at the end would be awesome here. If you have grilled chicken that would be nice as well.
However you serve it, I hope you and your family love this rigatoni primavera!
If you tried this recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out! Just leave a rating or comment below, or take a picture and tag me @thecoppertable on Instagram, pin to a board on Pinterest or share with your friends on social media! If you have not signed up for my newsletter, you can do that below. I have all sorts of exclusive content just for newsletter subscribers, and I’d love for you to join. Happy Cooking!
This Rigatoni Primavera is a quick and easy meal that is on the table in 30 minutes. With loads of fresh veggies and a creamy sauce with herbs and lemon, its sure to be a favorite!
For the Pasta
- 1/2 pound Sugar Snap Peas
- 1 medium Orange Bell Pepper
- 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup small Broccoli Florets
- 12 ounces Rigatoni
- 1 gallon of Water
For the Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 cup shaved Parmesan Cheese
- 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 3 tsp Lemon Zest
- 1 Tbsp chopped Fresh Dill
- 1 Tbsp chopped Fresh Chives
- Prepare the veggies. Cut the ends off the sugar snap peas, cut cherry tomatoes in half, and chop bell pepper. If the broccoli florets are large, cut them into smaller pieces.
- In a large nonstick skillet on medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the heavy cream and whisk to incorporate.
- While you cook the sauce, put a large pot of water on to boil for the rigatoni.
- Continue to cook the sauce while waiting for the water to boil (if the sauce is bubbling a lot, turn the heat down to medium low).
- Add the 2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, and 2 cloves of garlic.
- Stir the sauce, and add the 1 cup of parmesan cheese.
- If the water for the rigatoni is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- While the pasta boils, add the lemon zest to the sauce and stir.
- Add the lemon zest to the sauce and stir.
- Next, add the vegetables to the sauce and stir them in to let them cook just a touch (they should still be crunchy when the dish is ready to serve).
- Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, stirring to make sure the sauce coats the pasta.
- Add the chopped fresh chives and dill, and serve.
Be sure not to overcook the vegetables so they stay crunchy.
Another type of pasta may be used in place of rigatoni, but a shorter noodle is easier to eat.
There are many other veggies that would be great in this recipe, see the post for more variations.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 617Total Fat: 57gSaturated Fat: 35gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 168mgSodium: 1661mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 13g
All information presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietitian and any nutritional information should only be used as a general guideline. Statements within this site have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is provided for recipes contained on this site. This information comes from online calculators. Although The Copper Table attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.