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This pasta with spring vegetables of pea and asparagus is light, bright and delicious. A vegetarian pasta dish that takes under 30-minutes. It's perfect for a quick weeknight meatless dinner and is also gluten free!
The combination of spring vegetables like peas, asparagus and mint is the best. These veggies are fresh and bright. Vegetarian pasta paired with a butter sauce is an easy weeknight veggie pasta dish. It's a pasta dish sure to make the entire family happy!
There's nothing I love more than a quick vegetarian pasta recipe for weeknights. I'm a huge proponent of eating balanced dishes at every meal of the day. I love adding fresh or frozen vegetables to a one-pot pasta dish to help achieve that.
When I was in college (and before I knew how to cook or what clean eating was) I would make pasta with kielbasa and garlic salt. For. Every. Meal... I can tell you that this dish is definitely better than my college days. And for sure a lot more balanced!
What are the best gluten free pastas?
There are so many gluten free pasta brands these days. Many become extra mushy when cooked. When that happens, the texture becomes different from traditional pasta.
Jovial - Their tagliatelle and rotini are both so good. The tagliatelle only takes a few minutes to cook. It also tastes exactly like traditional fresh pasta. The rotini doesn’t get mushy and tastes delicious.
Trader Joe's - For this pasta dish I used their brown rice penne pasta. The quinoa and brown rice fusilli is probably my favorite gluten free pasta. I also love their egg fettuccine as a fresh pasta alternative. It cooks within 3-4 minutes and soaks up flavor for pastas with butter sauce.
Barilla - The corn & rice spaghetti tastes sooo good. Beware, your kitchen will smell like corn while you cook it! This is my go-to for spaghetti.
For a pasta dish like this one, use any type of gluten free pasta or traditional pasta.
What kind of pasta should I use with a butter sauce?
With a lighter butter sauce use pastas that have holes or indents to help hold the sauce best.
Orecchiette or Shells - pasta in a circular shape that looks like a curved palm. This is probably the best pasta for lighter, butter sauces. It holds the sauce in its indented space.
Penne or Rigatoni - short, tubular pasta with small ridges on the outside and a hole in the center. Penne and rigatoni are the most versatile pastas. The ridges can keep a butter sauce well. The internal holes help hold the peas as well. The ridges and the fact that it is often a pantry staple made this an easy choice for me.
This spring veggie pasta uses butter, lemon juice and pasta water. Combine to create a zesty lemon-forward sauce. By cooking these three ingredients together, it combines and thickens into a sauce. That sauce is light and very lemony.
There are only a few, quick steps for this vegetarian pasta recipe:
STEP ONE: Prepare the asparagus while cooking the pasta.
STEP TWO: Drain the pasta, keeping a cup of the pasta water. Start the butter sauce.
STEP THREE: When the butter sauce is thickened, add the asparagus. Toss and then add the cooked pasta.
STEP FOUR: Pour in the frozen peas and stir together.
STEP FIVE: Sprinkle the mint and serve.
Making a butter sauce from scratch
This weeknight spring veggie pasta doesn’t use pesto, olive oil or tomato sauce, it uses butter. Thicken the butter by cooking it on low temperature with lemon juice and pasta water. The salt in the pasta water not only helps flavor the butter sauce, but the starch in it also helps thicken it.
The butter pasta sauce pairs better than tomato sauce with the spring vegetables. I find the tomato would overpower the other ingredients.
Best Veggies to Use
I love to use any leftover vegetable in this pasta recipe. I also always keep frozen vegetables in the fridge to add to pasta. It makes eating balanced meals easier during the weeknights!
My favorite combo for this veggie pasta recipe is asparagus and peas. But I make this pasta dish different almost every single time! It depends what's leftover in my fridge and freezer!
TIP! This pasta dish is perfect to use up leftover frozen or fresh vegetables in your fridge!
Some other great veggies to use in this vegetable dish:
- Spinach (frozen or fresh)
- Peppers (frozen or fresh)
- Corn (fresh or frozen)
- Tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes
- Broccoli (fresh or frozen)
- Butternut squash
- Any leftover roasted vegetables
Other Easy Weeknight Dishes to Make
- Panera Steak and Arugula Sandwich (Oven Baked)
- The Best Sheet Pan Halloumi Fajitas
- Chorizo, Kale & Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole
- Vegan Cauliflower Tacos al Pastor
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Spinach & Fennel
Spring Vegetarian Pasta with Butter Sauce
- 10 OZ Pasta (penne, rigatoni, shells, orecchiette)
- 2 TBSP Salt
- 8-10 Cups Water
- 6 TBSP Unsalted Butter
- 1 Lemon zested and juiced
- ¾ Cup Pasta Water reserved from cooking pasta
- ½ TSP Red Pepper Flakes
Vegetables & Herbs
- ¾ Cup Frozen Petit Peas
- 1 Cup Asparagus about 1 bundle; thoroughly washed
- ¼ Cup Mint thoroughly washed
Cook Pasta & Prep Veggies
- Bring water to boil in a large pot. Once at a boil, add the salt and stir. Add in the pasta and cook per the box instructions. Check your pasta for doneness 2-3 minutes before suggested time. Pasta should be chewy.
- While the pasta cooks, remove the bottoms of the asparagus that are too tough to eat. Do this by holding the center and bottom of the asparagus and snap it where it bends. Cut the other asparagus in the same spot and throw out the bottoms.
- Next, cut the asparagus so that each piece is 2 inches tall (typically chop each piece in two equal parts). Keep to the side.
- Stack mint leaves flat on top of each other. Roll horizontally to look like a cigar. Chop with the mint roll horizontal to your body and knife.
- When the pasta is done cooking, save 1 cup of pasta water and then drain.
Make the Sauce & Mix Together
- Melt the unsalted butter on medium-low heat in a medium pot.
- Once melted, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and ½ cup of the pasta water. Stir and cook for a few minutes until thickened and combined.
- Add the asparagus and stir. Add the frozen peas, cooked pasta and another ¼ cup of reserved pasta water.
- Stir to combine and let cook together for 2-minutes. If too dry, add a little more pasta water and continue to stir.
- Turn off heat and pour into a serving dish or directly into individual bowls.
- Top with freshly chopped mint.