Weeknight Dinner: Pasta Primavera

I have very sad news to share about something I’ve been dealing with lately… I have had to say goodbye to a dear friend of mine. I have spent almost every day of the last three decades enjoying the company of my friend. She goes by the name of dairy. Gemma doesn’t seem to be tolerating it at all, and since I’m a human milk machine these days I have to cut all dairy out of my diet. I know it’s best for my baby, no question. I’m doing it. Fine. But I’m not happy about it. Not so bad, you say? Well, let me tell you I have literally had dreams about cheese and butter. Sadly, I think I could sooner give up carbs than dairy. Plus we have just entered into ICE CREAM SEASON!!!! I had grand plans of making my own ice cream this summer and doing a whole series here on the blog about it. Scrap that plan! (By the way, the use of caps and exclamation points are supposed to be showing frustration verging on anger-not excitement. Just wanted to point that out in case it’s not already glaringly obvious.)
I had to resist every natural urge in my body not to douse this dish in cream and pour on the Parmesan. (Ahhh, that blessed marriage of cream and cheese! May they live in wedded bliss for ever and ever, amen.) However, this vegan primavera allows all the flavors of fresh organic vegetables to shine through with hints of lemon and basil plus a little kick from crushed red pepper. It’s a really simple, stripped-down-to-the-basics kind of dish. Vegan? What?! Yes, it’s vegan. If I had put that in the title, would you have continued reading? Probably not, I’m guessing.
Hear me out…If ever there was a time for a medley of fresh seasonal vegetables to anchor a meal, springtime is it. Head to the farmer’s market and grab a basket full of organic produce. Your insides will thank you and so will the farmers.
-Pasta (I used spaghetti, but linguine or fettuccine would work.)
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, crushed
-Bell pepper
-Small yellow squash
-Crimini mushrooms (or any mushrooms)
-1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
-1 cup fresh basil leaves
-Juice from one lemon
-1/3 cup plus three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-Crushed red pepper
-Sea salt 
1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt to boiling water and prep pasta as package directs.
2. While pasta water is heating, saute diced onion and crushed garlic in one tablespoon of oil over low medium heat. Cook until onions turn translucent.
3. Finley chop fresh basil and set aside. Chop vegetables and add with additional 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Increase heat to medium. *Be sure to use a large pan so that vegetables aren’t crowded and end up steaming instead of sauteing. A wok is ideal.) Add in crushed red pepper to taste. I used about a teaspoon and then added more to each plate later.
4. Once pasta has cooked, quickly drain and add 1/3 cup olive oil, lemon juice, chopped basil, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Gently toss in sauteed vegetables to the pasta. Plate with a few springs of basil on top. 
*You may need to add salt and crushed pepper to taste.
This is the second week in a row that I used lemon and basil in a recipe. Can you tell how much I love them? Last week’s Meyer lemon and basil mini icebox cakes were a sweet take on the combo. (I can’t even look back at that post now…oh, the cream. I wish I could bathe in it. Gahhh!) This week lemon and basil go savory. I’m thinking of trying them in sun tea since I have so much around the house. I’ll let you know how that goes. 
With all the colors in this dish, you really get to eat with your eyes as well as your mouth. You could use any vegetable you like. Asparagus and carrots could be substituted for the squash and zucchini. If you wanted to make it a meal fit for a carnivore, add some grilled chicken. This would be a great pasta dish to enjoy outside if you’re grilling out on the patio. Al fresco dining is a big perk of spring time. This year I’m planning to do a lot more of it than I did last year. 

PS: Coconut milk is disgusting, and it’s a sad, sad substitute for my beloved 2%. 
PPS: Chocolate almond milk is just barely tasty enough to pass as a treat. 
PPSS: I miss ice cream.

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12 Comments Filed Under: Recipes

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  • Comments

    1. says

      Heather, I feel your pain girl!! I just recently started exhibiting signs of lactose intolerance out of nowhere (I did a lot of research and found that its common to become lactose intolerant as we age. But really?? 29??) I’ve kinda been in denial about it…my favorite dessert is ice cream and I’m not sure I’m ready to buy the soy stuff. No matter what they say, it’s SO not the same. Plus, practically everything we eat has cheese in it. I’m not a happy camper either. Sorry to hear you have to give it up too! -Jen

      • says

        Oh no! That is terrible. People warned me that your body starts revolting at 30…I didn’t believe them. Now, I have several issues and a medicine cabinet full of stuff to “fix” them. It’s crazy, huh? Here I am complaining about giving up dairy for the better part of year, and you might have to forever! I’m so sorry! Soy ice cream is SO not the same. I tried coconut milk ice cream, and while I hate coconut milk by itself, the ice cream isn’t awful. Honestly I’m just going to opt for Italian ice or sorbet:(

    2. says

      Oh man. That is seriously a serious type of bummer. You are so brave and strong. I would probably be in fetal position. Searching google for wet nurses or something. If that’s a thing. This pasta looks positively delightful though. :)

      • says

        Hah! If breast milk weren’t so dang expensive (it’s seriously liquid gold), I would totally be buying it from a milk bank. Yes, you can actually do that! It is going to be a challenge for sure…and pouting/venting/crying will most likely occur often.

    3. says

      I’m TOTALLY interested in vegan recipes so I’m happy to add this to my collection. Silk Chocolate Soymilk and Blue Diamond Vanilla Almond milk are my favorites. I add a splash of the vanilla to unsweetened black tea. Perfect!

    4. says

      Oh Heather, I’ve been there 3 months ago. I couldn’t eat wheat either. And that gets pretty tricky;). Thankfully there are some choices out there and to be honest, I felt the healthiest ever. Can’t drink regular milk anymore, yuck! If you have Trader Joe’s nearby, they have pretty good coconut milk ice cream and Snickerdoodles biscuits to die for;).

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