Penne Primavera

Primavera is defined as a mixture of fresh vegetables such as zucchini, broccoli and peas. However, that’s the great thing about freestyle cooking, you can do whatever you want. My Grandma Sue made the best dishes out of whatever she had in her refrigerator. In those days wasting food like we do today just wasn’t a thing. I always say, she could make anything taste good. When asked “what’s this Gram?” Her answer was “it’s a concoction of all the things I had in my refrigerator.” We didn’t care because it always tasted great. Even better was sitting at her table listening to her stories about her days as a little girl in Italy. So find the things you need in your frig and make a good food “concoction!” Try this one out, it won’t disappoint!

Pasta Pimavera

Pasta Pimavera

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This recipe looks involved but it really isn't that hard. It's quick to do all these steps. You can even do the veggies ahead of time and stick them in the frig. I will tell you this tastes so good which will make you want to eat a lot, but warning it's very rich so go easy on it. 🙂


  • 1 lb Penne Pasta or short pasta of your choice (Grandma always preferred DeCecco but Barilla is good too)
  • 1 bag Baby Leaf Spinach, washed and pat dry
  • 1 red bell peper, sliced
  • 6-8 white button mushroom, sliced
  • 1/2 white or red onion sliced or diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of half n half or heavy cream
  • Whole or 2% milk on standby (will explain)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Garlic Powder to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • Few sprigs of Italian flat parsley, chopped
  • Other options you can add or trade out:
  • 1-2 carrots sliced
  • 1 bag of Frozen peas, thawed and cooked per instructions
  • 1 head of Broccoli, chopped,
  • 1 zucchini, sliced


  1. This will be broken down into steps
  2. In a large pot add water and bring to a rolling boil, when the water starts to boil add a good amount of salt. A good tablespoon or two.
  3. Next, let's prepare the vegetables. Do this over medium heat.
  4. In a skillet, add olive oil to cover the skillet, let it heat and add the garlic cloves, peeled and smashed or sliced thinly, cook until golden brown. Do not take your eyes off the garlic. If you overcook it you have to start over. Believe me I've done it many times.Move to next step.
  5. Saute, the red peppers with salt, pepper and garlic powder and when starting to soften add the onions and add salt, pepper and garlic powder until just about translucent, set aside.
  6. Add the mushrooms to the same skillet and saute the mushrooms adding pepper and garlic powder, set aside. No salt on the mushrooms as it draws out water.
  7. In the same skillet I would add more olive oil and garlic, and when garlic is golden, add spinach, salt, pepper and garlic powder and saute until the spinach starts to get wilted. Set aside.
  8. If using other vegetables just do the same for each.
  9. Okay let's move onto the alfredo sauce, but before we do please add the pasta to the boiling water and watch closely.
  10. In a large skillet add and melt the butter with the rest of the garlic cloves, peeled and smashed. Saute for a minute or two over medium heat. Again, eyes always on the garlic.
  11. Now add the half n half to the skillet and turn the heat up a notch or two. As this starts to heat up you will notice it starts to thicken. Remember the milk I told you to have on standby. If the cream sauce gets too thick I loosen it with milk. You could use more half n half if you prefer but I find it's easier to work with milk.
  12. When the cream sauce is the consistency you like, add the parmesan cheese - a lot of it! Then add all of the vegetables, and allow flavors to marry for maybe 5 minutes over low heat.
  13. By now the pasta should be done. Drain the pasta reserving a little of the salty, starchy water. Add the pasta right into the skillet with the sauce and let all the flavors blend into the pasta. If by chance you over thinkened the cream sauce it's still okay to add a little more milk or a little of the pasta water.
  14. By the way, keep tasting this as you go. Season it as you see fit. I like to give a good hit of the salt and pepper but some people like more or less. You do you!
  15. Plate it up in a nice pasta bowl and top it off with more parmesan cheese and fresh Italian flat parsley.
  16. Get a nice loaf of Italian Bread and eat this beautiful concoction! Oh how I wish Gram was here to tell me her stories.


My grandmother and mother taught me how to cook but there's no measuring. You really have to get used to eyeing the amounts you and your family like. Remember to taste pasta when it's soft enough to taste, if it tastes bland, add more salt to the water. Also, don't overcook pasta. There should be a little bite to it so when you add it to the sauce it can absorb those flavors.

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  1. Your Grandma Sue sounds like an incredible cook and storyteller! The way she turned simple ingredients into delicious meals and shared her childhood memories must have been truly special. Thank you for sharing this heartwarming story.

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