Fifteen minute lightened-up pasta primavera

A fast and flavourful family-friendly dish!

I had loved pasta primavera for a long time before I realized – thanks to a middle school music teacher’s love of Vivaldi – that it’s a dish which is well suited to springtime (since primavera is the Italian word for spring). While I adore the rich, creamy sauce that is typically part of this classic dish, sometimes I just want something that’s not quite so heavy and this recipe offers a lighter, fresher take. Of course, you can enjoy it any time of year but garden-fresh asparagus and spring peas really do shine in this dish, though it’s one that you can you customize by using any vegetables you or your family prefer. This dish is vegetarian, but you can use this recipe for non-dairy parmesan cheese if you wish to make it vegan and of course feel free to use gluten-free pasta if you prefer.


  • 1/2 pound (225 g fresh asparagus, preferably thin spears (about 20)
  • 14 oz (400g) fresh linguine or fettuccine
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Dijon mustard
  • Pinch chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons (11 g) minced fresh chives
  • 1 cup (100 g) fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1 cup (150 g)  quartered cherry or grape tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
  • Grated parmesan, to serve


  • Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil over high heat.
  • While water warms, snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut into 2 inch (4 cm) pieces. Set aside.  
  • Meanwhile, grate the zest from the lemon and place in a 1 cup 250 mL) glass measure or similarly-sized heatproof bowl; add the juice from the whole lemon along with the mustard, chili pepper flakes, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk to blend well then set aside.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water. After 2 minutes, add the prepared asparagus pieces. Cook until both pasta and asparagus are just tender (al dente), about 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta and vegetables, reserving 1/4 cup of the starchy cooking water. Whisk that water into the lemon and mustard sauce.
  • Return the pasta and asparagus to the cooking pot along with the peas, diced tomato and lemon sauce. Sprinkle with half the minced chives and toss together.
  • Divide between 4 shallow bowls and top each with more black pepper, a generous dusting of Parmesan and the remaining chives.

Serves 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

9 thoughts

  1. Oooooh that’s pretty. I had no idea primavera means spring! You’ve definitely got a bowl of springtime goodness there. I’d have to add meat for the hubby…

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