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Easy Vegetable Spaghetti in 30 Minutes

Whip up a nutritious and flavorful vegetable spaghetti with your favorite veggies, capers, lemon, and garlic. This is an easy meatless meal made with simple ingredients, ready in 30 minutes and perfect for any season.

Customize the dish according to your mood and with whatever veggies you have on hand. I sometimes top the spaghetti with roasted shrimp or grilled chicken.

finished vegetable spaghetti in skillet.

Instead of measuring, you can just taste and adjust the sauce as you go until you’re happy. If you’re not comfortable with that method, use the recipe as a guideline to get you started.

The core ingredients in this vegetable spaghetti recipe are pasta, olive oil, garlic, lemon and capers (or olives). I love spinach in it too. Use what’s freshest or seasonal.

In summer, I typically use fresh garden vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and asparagus. In winter, I use canned diced tomatoes (with no juice), eggplant, peppers and baby spinach.

So, grab a glass of white wine and some warm crusty bread and enjoy!

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

Ingredients: Spaghetti, fresh or canned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, other chopped vegetables, capers, lemon, red pepper flakes and spinach.

Spaghetti: I used regular spaghetti noodles but use any type you have – spaghettini (thin spaghetti), angel hair, capellini, vermicelli. Whole wheat pasta or gluten-free spaghetti will work great too.

Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes in summer – heirloom, beefsteak, field or cherry tomatoes – are all great choices. If not in season, use a small can of diced tomatoes, drained.

Other fresh vegetables: Choose what you like. I often use zucchini, eggplant, green, yellow or red bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, green beans and/or asparagus.

Flavor boosters: Good options are capers, lemon, kalamata olives, a pinch of red pepper flakes and fresh herbs such as fresh basil, thyme, parsley or oregano. Or you can opt to use a dried Italian seasoning blend (though I think fresh is best).

Variations:

  • Frozen spinach: Use frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh. Add 1-2 cups to the boiling pasta in the last 3 minutes. Drain with the pasta.
  • Add-ins: Before serving, top the spaghetti with some grilled or roasted shrimp, grilled chicken or tofu.
  • Also see shortcuts below.

Step by Step Instructions

sauteed chopped veggies in skillet.
Begin the veggie spaghetti sauce by sautéing vegetables in a large skillet over medium heat.
cooked, drained spaghetti in pot.
Boil pasta in a large pot to al dente. Drain spaghetti and set aside. Reserve a cup of pasta liquid. 
saucy vegetables with capers and spinach in skillet.
Add garlic, olives (if using), capers, lemon juice, tomatoes, chopped spinach and chili flakes. Adjust seasonings. Tomatoes will break down to form a chunky sauce.
finished vegetable spaghetti in skillet.
Toss vegetable sauce with pasta and heat through.
vegetable spaghetti on white plate with wine behind plate.
Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and herbs if desired.
vegetable spaghetti topped with shrimp.
Add cooked chicken, tofu or shrimp for a more substantial meal.

Tips for cooking pasta

  • Choose a large enough pot that allows you to cook the pasta evenly. As a general rule, you’ll use about 4 quarts/3.8 liters of water per pound/450 grams of pasta.
  • Season the water with salt.
  • Wait to add the pasta until the water is at a rolling boil.
  • Cook until the pasta still has a slight bite to it, known as al dente. Or, until it has the texture you prefer.
  • The number one tip for cooking pasta is never rinse it. When you rinse cooked pasta, you wash off all the starch which is what helps the sauce stick to it.

Shortcuts

  • Use frozen garlic cubes and stir them right in
  • Leave out the chopped vegetables and increase the tomatoes, olives and chopped spinach. Or use leftover cooked vegetables.
  • Use roasted red peppers from the jar, drained, instead of fresh.
  • Use about 1 cup/255 grams 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 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!
  • Store leftovers in a covered container for up to 3 days.

What to serve with vegetable spaghetti

For a quick weeknight meal, I serve this recipe on its own or with some warm crusty multigrain bread.

For a more substantial meal:

vegetable spaghetti on white plate with shaved parmesan on top.

Other easy pasta recipes for dinner

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vegetable spaghetti on white plate with wine behind plate.
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Easy Vegetable Spaghetti in 30 Minutes

Whip up a nutritious and flavorful vegetable spaghetti with your favorite veggies, capers, lemon, and garlic. This is an easy meatless meal made with simple ingredients, ready in 30 minutes and perfect for any season.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 (or 3 larger portions)

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces spaghetti or other pasta, Note 1 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 cups vegetables, diced 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm, Note 2
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 tsp)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped, Note 3 (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 red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 lemon (2 tsp zest, juice from 1/2 lemon)
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • BEGIN SAUCE: Heat a large saucepan to medium high heat. Add olive oil. Add chopped vegetables and sauté about 8 minutes until tender. Reduce heat to medium heat. Add garlic, olives (if using), capers, lemon juice, tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3-5 minutes.
  • COOK SPAGHETTI: While sauteing vegetables, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions Drain, RESERVING 1 cup/250 ml of the pasta liquid. Put spaghetti back in the warm pot.  Add 1/4 cup/59 ml of the liquid and cover to keep warm. 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. 

Recipe Notes

  1. Spaghetti options: Use any type of spaghetti you have – regular, spaghettini, capellini, vermicelli – or any other type of pasta. Whole wheat spaghetti or gluten-free pasta will work great too.
  2. Vegetable options:
    • zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, green beans, snap peas and/or asparagus
    • **If using vegetables that cook very quickly such as asparagus, zucchini or snow peas, add them toward the end of sautéing the vegetables to avoid overcooking.
  3. Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes in summer – heirloom, beefsteak, field or cherry tomatoes – are all great choices. If not in season, use a small can of diced tomatoes, drained.
  4. Variations:
      • Frozen spinach: Use frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh. Add 1-2 cups to the boiling pasta in the last 3 minutes. Drain with pasta.
      • Add-ins: Before serving, pile some grilled or roasted shrimp on top, grilled chicken or tofu.
    •  
  5. 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 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!
      • Store leftovers in a covered container for up to 3 days.
    •  
    •  
 
Nutrition Values are estimates and do not contain garnishes like Parmesan cheese. 

Nutrition

Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 461mg | Potassium: 1004mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 15274IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 4mg
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