Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pasta Primavera with a Light Mozzarella Garlic Sauce

"Hmm... what to have for lunch. No, don't want that, or that. Made that last week. That would be too heavy for lunch. What's in the fridge? Ugh, no not that. I do have those.... and those.... and that! And I need to use this before it goes bad... what about.... yes! Yes, that'd be perfect for today!"

That was my internal conversation today when I was trying to figure out what to make for lunch. Travis and I declared today a completely lazy day- no errands, no major projects- just relaxing together and enjoying actually seeing each other after a very busy week. With that in mind, there was no way I was going to make a meal that took longer than 20-30 minutes total. 

After putzing between the fridge and pantry for a few minutes, reciting the above diction in my head, it finally dawned on me- a light summery dish that took advantage of the in season produce tossed together with a light sauce made from mozzarella cheese and other spices.

I was about halfway into making the dish that I realized I was actually making a primavera. This realization excited me even more, that I had spontaneously thought up in my head something that other people love and serve at restaurants. I had just set about to make lunch filled with vegetables and flavor without being terribly unhealthy.

Pasta Primavera is a North American dish, did you know that? I certainly did not, considering that many Italian dishes use lots of fresh vegetables with them. I've come across conflicting information, whether it was invented in New York City or Nova Scotia in the 1970's. It typically utilizes spring vegetables, and there is no one set recipe- only that which directs the cook's taste buds. Usually cooks stick with crisp vegetables and aromatic herbs and lots and lots of color! The only other trend I noticed in the research I read was if you use a short cut pasta, cut your veggies bluntly- to match the shape of the pasta. If using fettucini or spaghetti, you should follow the same principle and julienne the veggies.

Both Travis and I thought this pasta turned out wonderfully! The sausage was a wonderful addition, but it would have been just as tasty without it. It was flavorful, but light at the same time. The sauce was perfect and not overpowering to the vegetables. I've definitely put this one on the list to make again, very very soon. I love the flexibility of the dish, especially since I was able to multitask and prep the veggies while the pasta was cooking. I cut down on a bit of prep time by using frozen broccoli cuts and frozen mixed veggies- carrots, peas and green beans. I don't always have those fresh on hand anyway. 

Pasta Primavera with Mozzarella Garlic Sauce

a Butter Than Toast original
makes 4 servings

1 cup dry short cut pasta (I used orecchiette)
2 links chicken sausage, diced
1/2 bell pepper, any color, diced
1/3 large white onion, diced
1/2 large zucchini, diced
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/3 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella (if cutting from a ball of fresh mozzarella- about the size of 2 travel toothpastes), diced into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons low fat milk

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. If you have vegetables to prep and chop, do so while you're waiting for this to happen. Cook the pasta to al dente, and drain, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water. While the pasta is draining, warm a wide skillet over medium high heat. Add a squirt of olive oil and saute all of the vegetables, sausage and pasta together, stirring frequently.

While the skillet is going, add the sauce ingredients into the same pot you used to cook the pasta and heat on medium-low. Stir until the cheese melts, and if the sauce looks too thick, add a little bit of the pasta cooking water. Pour sauce over skillet, and toss to combine. Taste at this point, add a little more pepper or a pinch of salt if you desire. I did not need to add anything.

Serve hot and enjoy!


  1. oh, this looks so good! I love meals like this and it seems so fresh :)

  2. Thanks, Megan! I love impromptu meals like this too, especially if they can be easily adapted to whatever is in the veggie drawer in the fridge! It was absolutely delicious- I hope you get to try it out soon!

  3. this looked fantastic, so i tried making it last night, but i had a problem with the sauce... it turned out as a blob of mozzarella and some hot milk... is that right? does it mix in with the veggies? i was too afraid to try (and ruin the beautiful pasta/veggie/sausage mix i had going on). thanks!!

    1. Oh NO, Trish! I am SO sorry! I reviewed the recipe and I think I know exactly what happened..... I forgot to put in the instructions to cut up the mozzarella so it'll melt a little bit easier. Did you try to melt the mozzarella from the large piece you cut off? That may have been the issue. If you caught my mistake and cut it up before adding to the saucepot, I'm not sure why it turned out as a blob. Sometimes mozzarella can be finicky, especially if it's low fat- in my experience the lower fat still tastes great but doesn't melt as well. Please write back and help me figure out how to fix this for you. I'm so sorry!


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