Pasta primavera

Asparagus pasta primavera (Photo provided — Yvona Fast)

It’s June. Spring slowly becomes summer. You’re busy with the end of school, gardening and yard work.

Gardeners and farmers are harvesting asparagus, fresh greens, radishes, scallions, sweet baby carrots and peas. All of these go great with pasta for quick weeknight dinners.

“Primavera” is the Italian word for spring, but pasta primavera originated in the United States of America in the 1970s. The sauce can be creamy, made with half-and-half or crème fraiche, butter and parmesan or romano cheese. A lighter sauce can be made with wine or broth, olive oil and fresh lemon.

A simple dish of fresh spring veggies and noodles, pasta primavera is easy to make with any veggies you have on hand. This flavorful, visually appealing and satisfying dish is a good way to add more veggies to your diet.

Use any pasta you like. Farfalle — which means butterflies in Italian — is appropriate for the spring garden. The little seashells — orecchiette, or ‘little ears’ in Italian — also fit the summer theme. Large, chunky pasta like penne or ziti works, too.

Asparagus has been known around the Mediterranean for millennia. It was cultivated by Egyptians as an offering to the gods and enjoyed by Roman emperors like Julius Caesar. It contains more folic acid than any other vegetable and is a good source of the nutrients potassium, thiamine, vitamins A, C and B6, and a powerful antioxidant, glutathione.

Radishes originated in Asia. They have been cultivated in the Orient and Central Asia for thousands of years. They were popular in Egypt, and ancient Greeks made gold replicas of the radish to use in the worship of Apollo. A cruciferous vegetable, they have anti-cancer properties, are rich in vitamin C and fiber, and contain iron and iodine.

Greens (like spinach, turnip greens, radish tops) are superfoods, containing many phytonutrients that reduce cancer risk, improve cardiovascular health, and improve immunity. Most greens are high in lutein, which helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and may keep your heart healthy by preventing cholesterol from sticking to blood vessel walls. They are good sources of fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and copper, and vitamins A and C.

Asparagus Pasta Primavera


1/2 cup dry navy beans (or 1 can)

1 cup (about 4 ounces) chunky pasta like ziti or penne

2 – 3 teaspoons olive oil

1 small or medium onion

1 small or medium carrot

4 oz. baby portobello mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1/2 pound (1/2 bunch) asparagus

2 tablespoons shredded pecorino Romano cheese

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 lemon


Prepare beans – soak overnight, drain, and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water with 1 teaspoon salt to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Prep the vegetables: peel and dice the onion; wash and dice carrot; clean and dice mushrooms; peel and mince garlic.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add prepared onion, carrot, mushrooms and garlic. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Prep asparagus. Cut off ends, rinse, and slice into 1-inch lengths. Add to the skillet with about a half-cup or more of pasta cooking water. Cover and cook until tender, 7 – 10 minutes.

Stir in cooked beans, pecorino-Romano, and feta. Cook until cheese melts.

Stir in cooked pasta and fresh minced parsley and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add lemon zest and juice (strain out seeds); stir; taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Thin with a little more pasta water if needed.

Turnip and Radish Pasta Primavera


1 cup pasta of your choice

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 bunch radishes, with greens

1 bunch Hokkaido turnips, with greens

2 scallions

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup white wine, optional

1/4 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)

1/2 cup water from the cooking pasta

1/3 cup crème fraiche (you may substitute Greek yogurt or sour cream)

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Feta cheese, for garnish


Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt. When water boils, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain.

In a small pan, hard-cook the eggs. Run under cold water, peel, and set aside.

Remove root ends from turnips and radishes. Cut off the tops and chop coarsely. Wash by placing in a large pot and fill with water; scoop greens off the top.

Cut turnips and radishes in quarters or eights.

Remove root ends and any wilted greens from scallions. Wash and slice.

Heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add turnips, radishes and scallions. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook 5 minutes or a little longer. Add washed, chopped greens and stems. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add wine, broth and pasta water. Simmer until everything is tender, about 10 minutes.

In small bowl, combine crème fraiche and flour. Add some of the liquid from the cooking veggies; stir to combine.

Stir 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese and cooked, hot, drained pasta into the veggies. Then stir in the sauce and let cook 1 minute until sauce thickens.

Garnish with chopped hard-cooked egg and crumbled feta, if desired.

Option: Add 1 1/2 cups (1 can) cooked garbanzo beans with the Parmesan cheese. Omit eggs.


Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.


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