Summer Penne Primavera with Grilled Vegetables Recipe

Grilling adds depth and texture to fresh veggies in this quick-and-easy pasta that can be served warm or cold


Summer Penne Primavera with Grilled Vegetables

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklaseviks

Has indulgence in all the sweet or greasy treats at the state fair left you craving something healthier when you’re at home? Or, do you have an abundance of fresh veggies from the summer harvest you need to do something with? This pasta is a rainbow of seasonal veggies, all gilded with sparkling lemon and fresh herbs and enhanced with the heat of the grill. Once you fire up the grill to cook the veggies for this dish, it will be ready in minutes, and the hint of char will add wonderful depth and texture to the veggies, says Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, who created this recipe for Real Food. Serve this as a warm, creamy pasta or as a cold pasta salad.

Summer Penne Primavera with Grilled Vegetables

Makes 4 to 6 Servings

1 stem (about 8 ounces) broccoli, cut florets into bite-sized pieces
½ bunch (about 8 ounces) asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
1 medium zucchini, sliced on a diagonal
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ pound penne pasta (2½ cups cooked)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced, to taste
1½ teaspoons lemon zest
½ cup heavy cream (to serve warm), or 1/3 cup mayonnaise (to serve cold)
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½ cup fresh basil, chopped

  1. Preheat the grill for the vegetables, or prepare a grill pan. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions, about 12 minutes.
  2. Prep the vegetables and place in a large bowl, and toss in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Use a grill wok or mat to place the veggies on the grill and cook until marked but still crisp-tender.
  3. To serve warm: About 5 minutes before pasta will be done, warm the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest, and stir for 1 minute, just until fragrant. Add the cream and salt and bring to a boil, and then boil for about 2 minutes to thicken the sauce. Add the drained pasta and grilled vegetables to the sauté pan with the cream, and toss to coat. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the hot pasta and, over low heat, turn the pasta until the cheese is melted and the sauce is clinging to the pasta. Serve sprinkled with fresh basil.
  4. To serve cold: Stir the tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest in a large bowl, add the mayonnaise and salt, and stir to mix. Add the cooked penne, Parmesan, grilled vegetables and basil, and toss to coat.
Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.