I was watching reruns of Pioneer Woman the other night (exciting night, I know) and on one of the episodes she made a pasta primavera that inspired me to come up with my own version of the dish. I used a lot of the same vegetables she used in her recipe as well as her cooking method. I cooked the vegetables in batches for a short amount of time, just like she recommends. She’s right, if you cook the vegetables too long they get mushy because they continue to cook when you add them back into the sauce. So the veggie part of the dish is very similar to her recipe but the sauce in my version is entirely different. Mostly because I didn’t want to go out and buy heavy cream and half and half, which are two important players in her version of this classic pasta dish. I think my version, although it does call for cream cheese, is probably a tad bit healthier as well.
This is a pasta you can, or at least I can, feel good about eating because there is so much nutrition packed into the dish, especially if you use whole grain or whole wheat pasta like I did. It’s also packed full of veggies like carrots, squash, broccoli, and mushrooms. So even though the sauce is a bit decadent the dish is actually pretty good for you. The ratio of pastas to veggies is pretty equal. It’s also so tasty and very colorful. Just looking at the pasta with all those beautiful, vibrant vegetables is enough to cheer me up. Another bonus of making pasta primavera is it’s a great way to use up veggies in the fridge.
*Note: I totally forgot to add frozen peas but this would be an AWESOME addition. Pioneer Woman uses it in her original recipe. You just add the peas to the sauce a little before you add the other veggies back to the pot and let them warm through in the sauce for a minute or two.
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion chopped
1 leek thinly sliced and cleaned
6 cloves of garlic minced
2 carrots thinly sliced
2 cups diced yellow squash
2 cups baby portabella mushrooms sliced
1.5 cups frozen broccoli florets, defrosted in the microwave
1 red bell pepper diced
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth (I used low fat, low sodium)
8 oz cream cheese cubed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving
5 leaves of chopped fresh basil
1 lb whole grain pasta
salt & pepper
fresh chives for garnish (optional)
1. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil.
2. When the oil and butter have melted and are heated through add in the onion, garlic, and leeks and cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer them to a separate bowl
3. Add the diced red bell pepper to the dutch oven and cook for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the onions, leeks, garlic and carrots.
4. Add the 2nd tablespoon of butter and oil to the dutch oven.
5. Next add the squash and mushrooms and sautee for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the other par-cooked veggies.
6. Add the defrosted broccoli florets and sautee for 1 minute. Transfer to the bowl with the other veggies.
7. Meanwhile, Add the pasta to a pot of boiling, salted water and cook according to box directions. Drain when the pasta is al dente.
8. Add 1 cup of white wine to the dutch oven and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pot (get all those delicious brown bits from the vegetables off the bottom of the pot and into the sauce). Let the wine cook for 5 minutes.
9. Next add 2 cups of chicken broth or stock and cook for 2 minutes with the wine.
10. Throw in the cubed cream cheese to the wine and chicken broth. Break apart the cream cheese with a spoon and then whisk until everything is combined and simmering. This process should take about 8-10 minutes. You want the cream cheese to completely dissolve and thicken the sauce.
11. Add in the last tablespoon of butter and the 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese to the sauce. Whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.
12. Add the cooked vegetables back to the sauce and toss in the sauce.
12. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and the veggies and stir, stir, stir until everything is combined. Top with the fresh basil and parmesan cheese and mix well.
13. Sprinkle about 1-2 tablespoons of fresh chives over the pasta for a fresh onion flavor and a pretty pop of green color.
14. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and chives if desired.