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Easy Vegetarian Pasta Recipe (for all seasons)

This is one of my favorite non-meat meals. It’s a light, healthy, zesty, easy vegetarian pasta recipe – and perfect for any season.

This is one of those recipes that changes according to your mood and whatever you have on hand. I sometimes top the pasta with roasted shrimp or grilled chicken.

vegetarian pasta on plate with wine

Instead of measuring, I just taste and adjust the sauce as I go until I’m happy.  I know not everyone is comfortable with this method, so I’ve laid out some recipe guidelines that will get you started.

For me, the core ingredients in this vegetable pasta are pasta, olive oil, garlic, lemon and capers.  I love olives in it too. And spinach. Use what’s freshest or available in season.

In summer, I typically use fresh tomatoes, peppers and asparagus.

In winter, I use canned diced tomatoes (with no juice), eggplant, peppers and baby spinach.

Bonus…dinner is ready in about 30 minutes.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Use frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh. Add 1-2 cups to the boiling pasta in the last 3 minutes. Drain with pasta.
  • Before serving, pile some grilled or roasted shrimp on top. or sliced grilled chicken
  • Any of these vegetables would be great: zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, mushrooms, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes.
  • Vary the zing with more or less lemon, olives and capers.
  • Vary the level of spice and herbs with thyme, basil, etc.

Shortcuts

  • Use frozen garlic cubes and stir them right in
  • Leave out the chopped vegetables and increase the tomatoes, olives and chopped spinach
  • Use about 1 cup good quality canned diced tomatoes like San Marzano without the juice instead of chopping fresh tomatoes.

Make Ahead

  • You can make the vegetable ‘sauce’ ahead, but I suggest you only add the chopped fresh spinach when you reheat it to serve so that it stays a vibrant green. Cook the pasta just before serving and add to the vegetables.
  • Alternatively, make the whole thing and just rewarm it on the stove with some extra pasta water or plane water. I absolutely love leftovers of this dish too!

Other easy pasta recipes for dinner

How to make this easy vegetarian pasta recipe

chopped vegetables, lemon, spinach, capers, garlic, canned tomatoes, olive oil, chili flakes
Ingredients: chopped vegetables, lemon, spinach, capers, garlic, canned tomatoes, olive oil, chili flakes
sauteed veggies and tomatoes in pan
Begin sauce by sauteing vegetables.
cooked pasta in colander
While veggies are sauteing, boil pasta, drain and set aside. Reserve a cup of pasta liquid. 
sauteed veggies and tomatoes in pan
Add garlic, olives (if using), capers, lemon juice, tomatoes and chili flakes. Tomatoes will break down to form a chunky sauce.
sauteed veggies, tomatoes and spinach in pan
Add spinach and adjust seasonings.
sauteed veggies, tomatoes and spinach in pan with spaghetti added
Toss vegetable sauce with pasta and heat through.
plate of vegetable pasta topped with cheese
Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
vegetable pasta on plate topped with shrimp
Add cooked chicken or shrimp for a more substantial meal.

fresh vegetable pasta in pan p2

vegetarian pasta on plate with wine
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Easy Vegetarian Pasta Recipe (for all seasons)

This is one of my favorite non-meat meals. Its a light, healthy, zesty, Easy Vegetarian Pasta Recipe and perfect for and season.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 4 (or 3 larger portions)
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 8 ounce spaghettini or other pasta (225 grams) assumes moderate 2 oz per person
  • 1/4 cup Optional garnishes: chopped parsley, fresh chopped basil, grated Parmesan cheese

Vegetable Sauce

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cup vegetables, diced 1-2 inches (e.g. onion, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 tsp)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can 375 ml diced tomatoes, drained - about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup olives, chopped or 3 tablespoons olive tepanade (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 lemon (2 tsp zest, juice from 1/2 lemon)
  • 4 cup fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • BEGIN SAUCE: Heat a large saucepan to medium high. Add olive oil. Add chopped vegetables and saute about 8 minutes until tender. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, olives (if using), capers, lemon juice, tomatoes and chili flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3-5 minutes.
  • COOK PASTA: While sauteing vegetables, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions Drain, RESERVING 1 cup of the pasta liquid. Put spaghetti back in the warm pot.  Add 1/4 cup of the liquid and cover. Set aside. 
  • FINISH PASTA: Add spinach to vegetable mixture. Stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Add lemon zest. Add cooked pasta to vegetable mixture and stir to combine well.  Add pasta water a little at a time to get the consistency you like. Taste and adjust seasonings including salt and pepper if needed. 
  • SERVE: Transfer to a serving platter or serve straight from the pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil if desired as well as the garnishes you like. Pass extra Parmesan. 

Notes

Vegetables: If using vegetables that cook very quickly such as asparagus, zucchini or snow peas, add them toward the end of sauteing the vegetables to avoid over cooking.
Make Ahead:
  • You can make the vegetable 'sauce' ahead, but I suggest you only add the chopped fresh spinach when you reheat it to serve so that it stays a vibrant green. Cook the pasta just before serving and add to the vegetables.
  • Alternatively, make the whole thing and just rewarm it on the stove with some extra pasta water or plane water. I absolutely love leftovers of this dish too!
 
Nutrition Values are estimates and do not contain garnishes like Parmesan cheese. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy Vegetarian Pasta Recipe (for all seasons)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 472 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 461mg20%
Potassium 1004mg29%
Carbohydrates 80g27%
Fiber 13g54%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 15274IU305%
Vitamin C 48mg58%
Calcium 121mg12%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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