Pasta primavera is the perfect spring dish.
The title literally translates to “spring pasta.” So you know it’s good.
Pasta primavera also sounds so quintessentially Italian, doesn’t it?
Well, turns out, it’s not.
Vegan Pasta Primavera Inspiration
I was so surprised to discover that pasta primavera is an American dish, invented in the 1970s. In fact, it’s considered one of the hallmark American dishes created in the decade.
I’ve been meaning to create my own vegan pasta primavera for a few years now, ever since I enjoyed the best pasta primavera of my life at Clint Eastwood’s gorgeous Carmel restaurant, Mission Ranch.
Thank You Doris Day!
You may know that my husband Andrew and I go to Carmel each year for Doris Day’s annual birthday celebration.
Read all about the time I talked to Doris on the phone here. Yep, still can’t believe that happened. What a lifelong dream come true!
Read about the time I shared a blanket with legendary tap dancer and choreographer, Miriam Nelson, at Doris’ birthday here. Or take a look at some pics of Andrew and I with the amazing people we’ve met at Doris’ celebrations over the years, such as comedian Rich Little, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, and Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall.
Anyway, when not attending one of the many amazing events the Doris Day Animal Foundation puts together for each day of the birthday festivities, Andrew and I explore Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula. We’ve got our favorite bakeries, museums, and restaurants in the area, and officially added Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch to our list after being blown away by the delicious food and gorgeous environment.
In addition to the pasta primavera, Mission Ranch had amazing garlic bread (which I’ll soon try to recreate) and bread pudding. Even their French fries were out of this world.
But back to pasta.
Vegan Pasta Primavera. FINALLY!
I finally got around to creating my own vegan pasta primavera. And I’m excited to say that my dish is not only incredibly easy to make, it’s also utterly delicious.
The slightly caramelized sweet mini bell peppers retain a bit of their bite and firmness after a few minutes of sautéing in the skillet. Coupled with the creamy, cashew-based sauce that’s loaded with fresh herbs—cilantro, parsley, scallions, and dill—my Vegan Pasta Primavera just about screams SPRING.
So enjoy this gorgeous season with my Vegan Pasta Primavera. Next time you’re in the mood for pasta, I’m sure this dish will hit the spot.
If you’re ok with making this a vegetarian rather than a vegan pasta, you can substitute the nutritional yeast in my recipe with Parmesan. The dish will be just as delicious.
But if you do use nutritional yeast, you’ll get a wonderful, cheesy, nutty flavor, and some additional protein.
Nutritional yeast is packed with it. Even just the 2 Tbsps I put in this recipe adds 4-5 grams of protein to the sauce, depending on the brand of nutritional yeast you use.
Vegan Pasta Primavera
For the sauce:
- ¾ cup cashew pieces
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, (or Parmesan to make this dish vegetarian)
- 2 cloves garlic
- ⅛ tsp peppercorns, (they will grind down in the food processor)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup fresh scallions
- ¼ cup fresh dill
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ¼ cup oil
- ¾ cup water
For the peppers:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 pound sweet mini peppers, sliced to thin rounds
- 1 pound spaghetti, or pasta of choice
Make the sweet mini peppers
- To a large skillet, add the olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat for 30 seconds, then add the sliced peppers and salt
- Cook over medium-high heat for 3 mintues, until the peppers start to sizzle.
- Now turn the heat down to medium, and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes, until the peppers release their juices, and brown and soften a little bit. Add a little more olive oil if the pan gets dry, and flip the peppers on occasion.
- Don’t let the peppers cook over medium heat for longer than 6 minutes, we still want them to have a little bit of a crunch.
- Peppers are done, set aside.
Make the sauce
- If you haven’t already, now is a good time to get the pasta water boiling, and prepare the pasta according to package instructions.
- To the bowl of your food processor or blending device, add the cashew pieces, peppercorns, nutritional yeast (or Parmesan), garlic, and salt. Pulse a few times, then process until everything breaks down to small flecks, and the cashews start to get creamy.
- Now add the cilantro, parsley, scallions, and dill. Pulse a few times, then process until the herbs are small flecks, and have incorporated into the rest of the mixture.
Add the olive oil and water
- Now add the olive oil, and process until it fully incorporates into the cashew/herb mixture. It will be thick.
- Finally, add the water. Process until the water completely incorporates, and you have one creamy, mostly smooth sauce. There will still be some flecks and texture from the herbs the cashews, and that’s perfect.
Bring it all together
- Once the pasta finishes cooking, drain it, and add it back to the pot you cooked it in.
- Now add the sweet mini peppers to the pot with the pasta. Get any oil and juice from the skillet into the pasta as well, it adds great flavor.
- Start with about half of the sauce, and drizzle it into the warm pasta.
- With a pair of tongs, toss the pasta, sauce, and peppers together, until the peppers are evenly distributed, and the sauce coats the pasta.
- Taste, and add more sauce as desired.
Serve and enjoy!
- Sprinkle Parmesan, or vegan Parmesan, over the dish, and serve with greens and a protein. We love this dish with my fried chickpeas, or Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs.
- (And if you’re like me, you’ll also put more Parmesan on each individual serving.)