This is one of my favorite non-meat meals. It’s a light, healthy, zesty, fresh vegetable pasta dish and perfect for spring (or any time for that matter).
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.
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 are pasta, olive oil, garlic, lemon and capers. I love olives in it too. And spinach. Use what’s freshest or available in season. If I make this 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Fresh Vegetable Pasta
- 8 oz 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
- 2 tbsp 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 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
- 1/2 cup olives, chopped or 3 tablespoons olive tepanade (optional)
- 1/2 tsp 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
- 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.
This recipe has been updated with new pictures. Here’s a picture from the original recipe, one of our first – so embarrassing!
Other pasta dishes you might like: