Cheesy Roasted Garlic Primavera Baked Pasta

This super simple, high-protein vegetarian spring primavera pasta comes together in a few short steps before baking in the oven for rich cheesy mozzarella white bean roasted garlic sauce and parmesan crust on top. A perfect meal with minimal ingredients, great for meal prep as it tastes amazing warmed back up, and equally comforting cozy, and hearty as it is light and fresh making it an ideal dish for the crisp springtime.

One of my favorite foods is pasta, there’s so much to love about pasta. And it gets quite a bad rep as a healthy meal option. Pasta however can be such a truly healthy option as long as it’s balanced meaning the portion size, the ingredients, etc.

In this recipe, I use some leftover Roasted Garlic and Artichoke White Bean Dip which is PACKED with so much protein from the white beans and cottage cheese! The beans also give the dip great amounts of fiber along with the artichoke hearts. And the healthy fat-filled liquid gold of extra virgin olive oil along with my favorite aromatics of lemon, woodsy herbs, and robust roasted almost sweet garlic for an irresistible wholesome dip.

Because this dip is more on the thick and creamy side, its possibilities of variations are ENDLESS thus a sauce was created to coat chewy al dente pasta and crisp fresh spring vegetables.

Thinned out with some pasta water and taken up an even higher notch with mozzarella and parmesan this couldn’t be a more easy pasta sauce.

The PRIMAVERA part

Spring translates to Primavera in Italian and there is nothing more springtime classic when it comes to vegetables such as the green trio – artichokes, asparagus, and peas!

Artichoke hearts are blended up in the sauce adding some fresh vegetable flavor. The asparagus and peas are simply blanched until they reach a bright green exterior and crisp al dente bite in the interior in the already salted and boiling pasta water – making for minimal dishes used in the making of this recipe!

A wonderful addition would be some crispy cubed smoked ham as it pairs so perfectly with the springtime vegetables however I wanted to keep this recipe vegetarian but highly recommend that addition! If you don’t want to use ham crisped cubes of pancetta or thick-cut bacon would also be a decadent smokey meaty touch to the dish.

Cheesy Roasted Garlic Primavera Baked Pasta Ingredients

  • Short Pasta – baked pasta usually contains a short shape pasta i.e. penne, rigatoni, fusilli, orecchiette, cavatappi, and so on as opposed to the long like spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, and bucatini which I would not recommend for any kind of baked pasta.
  • Roasted Garlic and Artichoke White Bean Dip – I recommend this be more on the freshly made side so use for this sauce within 4-5 days of when it was made.
  • Asparagus – look for asparagus that have fresh tips with no slime at the top of them. And make sure that the stalks are a good medium – not super thin but also avoid the large thick stalks. The tips should be tight and the stalks should feel plump and firm not wilting or fading of color visible for the best most fresh asparagus.
  • English Peas – I get mine in a bag already shelled so I look for them to be all light green, avoid ones that are brown or slimy, making sure they are perfectly round, plump, and full avoiding any that look dried out or that have divets in them.
  • Lemon – I added a whole lemon zested and juiced at the final moment before stirring in the cheese because A) I am the zest queen B) thought it needed some more fresh bright aromatic flavor and C) love the little lemon yellow zest strips running throughout that help to cut through the rich cheesy creaminess of the sauce.
  • Mozzarella – I always recommend shredding your own mozzarella as it tastes more full of flavor, fresher and there’s no powdered cellulose added (as it prevents the cheese from sticking together). I recommend either part-skim or whole for this recipe.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano – ALWAYS the real deal, with the rind on, because life is too short not to eat the best of the best. Parmesan gives a great salty touch to the dish and is one of my favorite cheeses which helped create the crunchy golden brown crust on the top of the pasta.
  • Black Pepper – the perfect seasoning to pair with the creamy cheesy sauce and crisp vegetables that add a little kick and bite to the dish.

Q&A’s

  • Crispy Cubed Ham or Pancetta – add in about 2-3 oz after the cheese is mixed in for an additional smokey meaty flavor and texture to the dish
  • Don’t Bake It – if you don’t want to, don’t have the time, or just for some reason just want to eat it straight out of the pot go for it!
  • Make It In Advance – make it and stop right before you go to bake instead cover it with foil, and let it sit in the fridge for up to one day or freeze it for up to a month.
  • Easy Reheating – bake the leftover pasta at 350 F for about an hour or until heated through and bubbling or just microwave small individual servings.

What To Serve This Primavera Baked Pasta With

  • Springtime Green Goddess Salad – fresh greens such as arugula, watercress, and spinach with a very like strawberry or blueberries, then a crunch of roasted salted pistachios, almonds or pepitas, and maybe a fresh cheese like goat or feta all topped with an herbaceous green goddess dressing!
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Cheesy Roasted Garlic Primavera Baked Pasta


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb pasta, preferably a short shape
  • 1 cup roasted garlic white bean dip
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 oz bag of fresh english peas
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 11/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt heavily.
  2. Drop the pasta into the water and stir frequently to prevent sticking. Then when about 3-4 minutes are left to cook the pasta to al dente add the asparagus to the water.
  3. At the last minute, add the peas, then reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta and vegetables.
  4. Add the white bean dip to the big pot, 1/3 cup of the water to start, and stir until a sauce is formed.
  5. Add the pasta and cooked vegetables to the pot adding in more water a little at a time until all the pasta and veggies are coated in the sauce.
  6. Add the lemon zest, mozzarella, and 1/2 a cup of the parmesan to the pot and stir until everything is melted.
  7. Add the cheesy primavera pasta to a greased 9×13 pan or large skillet then top with the remaining parmesan.
  8. Bake the pasta for 30-35 minutes or until a golden brown crust forms on top.
  9. Let the pasta cool for 5 or so minutes before serving and enjoy!
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