Rigatoni primavera is a springtime pasta loaded with gorgeous green veggies. Our version incorporates a creamy white wine and tomato-based light pink sauce that adds luxurious flavor and texture to this dish. We've tested many versions of primavera and this is by far the best way we've made it and are excited to share it with you!
Walk into most Italian restaurants on Long Island, or the NY metro area, and you'll find Pasta Primavera on the menu.
It's usually made with garlic and oil, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, or other variety of veggies.
The problem with pasta primavera is that it's usually pretty bland.
So we tampered a bit with the traditional recipe and made this rigatoni primavera a pasta to be reckoned with.
Using a sauce similar to alla vodka (minus the vodka) and the addition of broccolini and asparagus, we've unlocked a leveled-up version of primavera that we know you'll love.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Trim 1 pound of asparagus by removing and discarding the bottoms, then cut into 2-inch pieces. Trim 1 pound of broccolini and cut into 2-inch pieces. Slice 1 medium zucchini and 1 medium yellow squash, and slice 6 cloves of garlic.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon of water) to boil. Heat a large pan to medium heat and 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and all the veggies except the peas. Note: if you're using fresh peas, add them now as they'll take a bit longer to cook than frozen peas.
- Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the peas and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Next, add the 6 cloves of sliced garlic and if the pan is dry, add a touch more olive oil and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the garlic turns golden. Add ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and season the veggies with salt. Transfer the veggies to a plate and set them aside.
- At this point, your water should be boiling and you can add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than al dente. Turn the pan you used for your veggies to medium-low and add the remaining olive oil along with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook the paste for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add 1 cup of dry white wine and turn the heat to high. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan to dislodge the brown bits.
- Once the wine reduces by half (about 2 minutes), turn the heat down to medium and add ½ cup of heavy cream. Mix well and bring to a simmer.
- Add 1 cup of pasta water to thin out the sauce and continue to cook over a low simmer.
- Add the pasta to the sauce along with ½ the veggies and toss to coat. If the sauce is too dry, add more of the reserved pasta water a little at a time to get the consistency just right.
- Cook the pasta in the pan until it reaches al dente (about 30-60 seconds), then remove the pan from the heat. Add ½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add ¼ cup of minced fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, and ¼ cup of hand-torn basil leaves and mix once more. If the pasta is dry, add some more reserved pasta water a bit at a time to loosen it up.
- To plate, add some of the pasta and veggie mixture to a pasta bowl or plate, then top with some of the remaining veggies. Serve with more grated cheese and enjoy!
Top tips for perfect rigatoni primavera
- The pasta water. This tip is listed first because it's that important. Since there is cream in this sauce, it's essential that you reserve some of your starchy pasta water to loosen up and reconstitute the sauce. Besides, it's always a good rule of thumb to reserve pasta water when making any pasta dish. Add a little at a time until you achieve the perfect consistency.
- The veggies. We think the combination used here is the most interesting combination that yields maximum flavor and texture. We used zucchini, asparagus, broccolini, yellow squash, and green peas. If you prefer to use other veggie combos feel free to do so! If you opt to use fresh English peas as opposed to frozen peas, please note that they'll likely need a bit longer to cook and soften up. If using the fresh peas, add those at the start along with the other veggies.
- The wine. We're often asked about non-alcoholic substitutes for wine. In this case, you can use veggie stock, or even water to replace the cup of wine. If you are using wine, opt for a dry white wine.
More warm-weather pasta favorites!
We eat pasta year-round in our house, but in the warmer months, we (sometimes) opt for lighter pastas with sauces that don't require hours of cooking. Here are a few of our absolute favorites!
- Spinach and sundried tomato pasta - Angel hair, fresh baby spinach, and sundried tomatoes make for a light, summery pasta.
- Lemon arugula pasta - Fresh lemon zest, baby arugula, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Roasted cherry tomato pasta - Super easy pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic.
- Spaghetti alla Nerano - With thinly sliced zucchini, butter, and cheese.
- Pasta alla Norma - Roasted eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and ricotta salata.
- Roasted zucchini pasta - Bite sized roasted zucchini pieces tossed with ziti in a spicy marinara with smoked mozzarella.
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- 1 pound rigatoni
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 6 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 pound broccolini cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 medium zucchini sliced
- 1 medium yellow squash sliced
- 1 pound asparagus bottom trimmed and discarded, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas see note below if using fresh English peas
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 cups reserved pasta water will most likely not need all of it
- ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley minced
- ¼ cup basil leaves hand torn
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon of water) to boil.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and all of the veggies except for the peas. Saute for about 5 minutes then add the peas and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Next, add the garlic, and if the pan is dry add a touch more olive oil and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the garlic turns golden. Add the hot red pepper flakes and season the veggies with salt. Transfer the veggies to a plate and set them aside.
- At this time begin boiling the pasta to 1 minute less than al dente.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining olive oil to the pan along with the tomato paste. Cook the paste for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the wine. Turn heat to medium-high and with a wooden spoon dislodge all of the brown bits.
- Once the wine reduces by half (about 2 minutes) turn the heat down to medium and add the cream. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Add 1 cup of pasta water to thin out the sauce and continue to cook over a low simmer.
- Add the pasta to the sauce along with ½ of the veggies. Toss to coat. If the sauce is too dry, add more of the reserved pasta water a bit at a time to get the consistency just right.
- Cook the pasta until it reaches al dente (about 30-60 seconds) then turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley and basil and mix once more. If the pasta is at all dry add extra reserved pasta water, a bit at a time to loosen it up. Plate and top each with the remaining veggies. Serve with more grated cheese. Enjoy!
- Always reserve pasta water. If the pasta dries out before serving, just add a few ounces of the pasta water to bring the consistency back to perfect.
- Fresh English peas might need a bit more cooking to soften up than frozen peas. If using fresh peas they can be cooked right from the start with the other veggies.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave.