This vegan pasta primavera is lemony and creamy, yet light. It’s a perfect celebration of fresh, green spring produce, and it can be adapted for other seasons of the year, too.
It has been blustery and brisk this week. It’s also that time of year when the heat stops coming up in the morning in my apartment in spite of the fact that it’s 40 degrees in the morning.
Springtime in New York City can be a chilly season. All the more reason for bright, springtime recipes in my kitchen—meals that promise warmer days ahead.
This lovely, springtime vegan pasta primavera is one of those. I made it a couple weeks ago, after a month or two of having little energy to cook more than staples.
It was my first time this year having fresh asparagus and sugar snap peas, and it was delightful.
I’ve made the pasta again since then, and I’m sure that it will become an April favorite for me. It’s so easy to make, and its simplicity is totally appropriate. Because it has only few ingredients, the fresh, crispy produce and hint of lemon zest shine.
This vegan pasta primavera features a light cream sauce. That sauce is achieved by using either vegan sour cream (homemade or store-bought), or my all-purpose cashew cream.
The effect is a pasta that’s just a little creamy and luxurious, but not as heavy as carbonara or alfredo—a perfect in-between for an in-between season.
Pasta primavera is an American pasta dish that originated in the 1970s. It’s attributed to chefs at Le Cirque restaurant in NYC. It’s made with vegetables and pasta, along with butter, cream, or both.
Pasta primavera recipes vary significantly. I’ve seen the dish made with green vegetables and spring produce, much like the recipe that I’m sharing today.
I’ve also seen pasta primavera recipes that call for broccoli, peppers, fresh tomatoes, carrots, red onion, zucchini, and more. This is an adaptable dish, one that can be made with vegetables that are available and in season.
My recipe was inspired by two others: Melissa Clark’s pasta primavera with asparagus and peas, which is made with Greek yogurt, and J. Kenji López-Alt’s version with crème fraîche.
It isn’t a stretch to veganize this type of pasta dish. Really, the only task is to re-create the creamy component without dairy.
The first option is to use the vegan sour cream that I posted last week. That sour cream is similar to crème fraîche, and it works beautifully in this light, fresh, springtime pasta dish.
These two components are made in the same way: by blending soaked cashews and water in a high-speed blender or a food processor.
The recipes each give instructions for blending, soaking cashews, which cashews to choose, and more.
If you make the creamy component in advance, actually whipping up the pasta primavera is incredibly simple.
You’ll start by steaming your spring vegetables until they’re crisp-tender. Then, you’ll boil your pasta, reserving some cooking water to help bring the dish together at the end.
Next, you’ll sauté some shallots and garlic. At this point, you’ll add your cooked pasta, followed by the cashew cream, some cooking water, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper. As you stir everything together, a light cream sauce will envelop the pasta.
You’ll finish the recipe by folding your vegetables in. Garnish with cashew parmesan and/or fresh herbs, and you’re ready to eat.
What if you don’t have either a food processor or a high-speed blender? Or you do have a cashew allergy?
That’s OK. I’ve experimented with a number of cashew cream substitutions, and I’ve landed on three that work well.
For each cup of cashew cream (or cashew sour cream) that’s called for in a recipe, substitute:
These options will work for this vegan pasta primavera, if cashews aren’t for you.
One of the things that I love about this dish is the relatively simple ingredient list. Here are the highlights.
My intention here was to take advantage of fresh, spring produce, and I chose my favorites: asparagus, sugar snap peas, and green peas.
You can celebrate the season with me, if the same vegetables are available near you. However, you can also modify the pasta dish to include the vegetables that you have at home. Here are some that you might like to try:
90% of the time, I use regular old pasta to make my pasta suppers.
The remaining 10% of the time I use whole wheat pasta, or I reach for bean/lentil pasta. Legume-based pasta isn’t my favorite from a taste/texture perspective, but I do like its plant protein content.
You can use your pasta of choice in the vegan pasta primavera. Regular, whole grain, legume, gluten-free: it’s up to you.
As I mentioned, you can use vegan sour cream, regular cashew cream, or one of my suggested substitutes.
“The lemon zest is everything,” said a friend who tasted this recipe, and it’s true. Because the ingredient list is so simple, this pop of flavor goes a long way. This definitely isn’t an ingredient to skip!
Keeping in the theme of simplicity, your final garnishes on the pasta primavera can make a big difference. They provide a final, vibrant pop of flavor.
My favorite finishing touches? Fresh, chopped herbs (I like parsley), an extra bit of lemon zest, or cashew parmesan cheese.
You can use my favorite, homemade cashew parmesan cheese, or you can use a store-bought vegan parm.
I think that the pasta primavera is a dish best whipped up right before eating. However, the pasta keeps nicely for up to three days. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
If you’d like to get a head start on the recipe, the best meal prep option is to make your cashew sour cream or all-purpose cream a day or two in advance.
In addition, it’s easy to freeze cashew cream. I freeze mine all the time; in fact, I often make double batches specifically to have extra in the freezer. Cashew cream can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.
In spite of how nice it is to enjoy this dish right after it’s folded together, you won’t want to let any left over portions go to waste!
You can freeze the pasta primavera for up to four weeks, defrosting it in the fridge overnight before serving.
I love putting celebrating the bright green colors and fresh flavors of spring in my dishes. Here are a few other seasonal favorites:
I find it tough to cook these days unless I make things ahead of time, over the weekend. But one of the nice things about the pasta primavera is that it truly is a weeknight-friendly dish.
I’m hoping that you’ll have the time to enjoy it soon, on a springtime evening, maybe as you savor the lingering sunlight of lengthening days.