Chicken Primavera Pasta comes in many different forms, but if you want maximum flavor, with the least amount of effort, and the absolute best results, this is the recipe to have on hand. No more standing over the stove, swapping out one veggie for the next until it’s all said and done. Instead, cook them all in one fail-swoop and roast them….simultaneously…with the chicken.
The dish comes deliciously loaded with penne pasta, juicy strips of chicken, buttery squash, and vibrant grape tomatoes, all cloaked in a light and buttery garlic sauce.
This is a pasta recipe so good, you can kiss that whole “seasonality thing” goodbye. Pasta Primavera isn’t just for spring anymore — this dish is perfect for any night of the week, any time of year.
Looking for more Italian chicken dishes to add to your weeknight recipe lineup? Bookmark our perfectly crispy, classic Chicken Parmesan recipe and this light and healthy oven-baked Bruschetta Chicken!
WHAT IS PASTA PRIMAVERA?
Primavera means “springtime” in Italian, and it is for this reason the pasta dish comes heavily loaded with a variety of fresh vegetables.
While the vegetables always vary quite a bit from one recipe to the next, common vegetables you might find in Pasta Primavera are as follows:
- Broccoli or Broccolini
- Onion or Shallot
You’ll also find it bulked up with extra protein from time to time, as is the case with both Shrimp and Chicken Primavera.
The pasta itself can also vary depending on the recipe source, as does the sauce.
WHAT IS PRIMAVERA SAUCE MADE OF?
Primavera Sauce can be cream-based, made with a white wine reduction, or a simple butter sauce made up mostly of pasta water. Lemon juice is often added for a bright note, complementing and bringing out the fresh flavors of the vegetables.
WHO INVENTED PASTA PRIMAVERA?
Similar to Stuffed Shells and even Spaghetti and Meatballs, this famous pasta dish also has very Italian-American roots. Sirio Maccioni, the chef and co-owner of the famous restaurant, Le Cirque in New York City, is the likely party responsible for the glorious invention that is Pasta Primavera.
Of course, like almost all recipes, the recipe origin is greatly debated and there are many who’d seek the rights to Pasta Primavera, including (but not limited to) the other co-owner of Le Cirque, Sirio Maccioni and still another chef at another NYC restaurant from that time period named Franco Brigandi.
So while we may never know the true origin story, what we do know is it rose to fame out of New York City’s restaurant scene in the 1970s.
CHICKEN PRIMAVERA INGREDIENTS
At its most basic form, the dish comes down to four main elements:
- The Pasta
- The Vegetables
- The Chicken
- The Sauce
If you’re feeling extra decadent, you can throw in a fifth, finishing touch in the form of cheese.
You’ve got options when it comes to the carby portion of Chicken Primavera Pasta! Penne pasta gets our vote, but you could also use farfalle, tagliatelle, fettucini, linguine, or even spaghetti!
For this recipe, we kept both the cooking method and the ingredient list as simple as possible. We went with a choice selection of vegetables that would cook quickly in the oven, in the exact same amount of time it would take for pan-seared chicken to cook through.
- Grape Tomatoes
- Yellow Squash
- Red Bell Pepper
For the chicken portion of this Chicken Primavera Recipe, you’ll need to have about 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand (which usually equals about 2 chicken breasts).
The ingredient list for the sauce is small, yet mighty thanks to a great deal of borrowed flavor from the pan-seared chicken.
Butter is used to deglaze the pan, scraping up all those golden bits of flavor. Then, a few cloves of chopped garlic are tossed in, followed by a ladle-full of pasta water and the sauce is done!
Pecorino Romano is a great choice for topping off Chicken Primavera, adding a rich and tangy sharpness to the dish. However, if you’re looking for more of a mellow, somewhat nutty vibe, go with Parmesan cheese instead. You could also opt-out of the cheese altogether.
HOW TO MAKE PRIMAVERA
- Boil the Pasta
- Prep Veggies For Roasting
- Prep and Pan-Sear Chicken
- Roast Chicken and Veggies (400°F for about 15 minutes)
- Make the Sauce
1. BOIL THE PASTA
A watched pot never seems to boil, so go ahead and get your water in the pot over high heat before you begin working with the vegetables or the chicken.
Cook the pasta according to package directions and be sure to save the pasta water! It will be used for making the sauce at the end of the recipe.
2. PREP THE VEGGIES FOR ROASTING
To prep the vegetables for roasting, first want to prep your pan! Have ready a rimmed sheet pan, lined with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper — this will make for easy release once they finished their stint in the oven.
Next, add all of the vegetables to the sheet pan and drizzle them with olive oil and add the seasoning. Set the pan aside while you prepare the chicken.
3. PREP AND PAN-SEAR THE CHICKEN
Time to put the chicken in the Chicken Primavera! To start, pat your chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. This will ensure the oil sticks to the chicken and you’re able to build big flavor with a good, solid pan sear.
Once the chicken breasts are patted dry, drizzle them with oil, season with salt and pepper and have ready a large pan equipped with olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, you’ll know it’s hot and ready for the chicken!
Add the chicken breasts to the pan and sear for a few minutes on each side, just until golden brown. Then, transfer the chicken to the baking sheet with the vegetables and remove the pan from the heat.
TAKE NOTE: Don’t wash the pan at this point! The oil and browned bits left behind from the chicken are going to be used to build an über flavorful Primavera Sauce!
4. ROAST CHICKEN AND VEGGIES
Bake the chicken and the vegetables together at 400°F for about 15-18 minutes. Once the chicken has cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and wait until the chicken is cool enough to handle before cutting into 1/2″ thick slices.
5. MAKE THE SAUCE
Place the pan over medium heat and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt and then, use it to scrape up any browned bits left behind from the chicken. Add the garlic immediately after, and stir until cooked through and softened. Then, add about a 1/2 cup of pasta water (typically one ladle-full) and stir to combine.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, as well as the vegetables and the Pecorino-Romano cheese. Toss to combine and top with the sliced chicken!
3 MORE PASTA RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
Chicken Primavera Pasta deliciously loaded with penne pasta, juicy chicken, buttery squash, and vibrant tomatoes, cloaked in a light, buttery garlic sauce!
- 3 cups dry penne pasta cooked according to package directions, **do not discard of the pasta water**
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 1 zucchini quartered lengthwise and cut 1/2" thick
- 1 yellow squash quartered lengthwise and cut 1/2" thick
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and cut into 1/2" dice
- 3 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
- 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, separated
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F and have ready a rimmed sheet pan lined with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Add the tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper to the sheet pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and a 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to combine and set aside until ready to use.
On a work surface, pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season with 2 teaspoons Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Add the chicken breasts and sear until golden-brown (for about 3-4 minutes) on the first side, then flip and sear for about 2-3 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, but do not wash it.
Transfer the chicken to the prepared sheet pan with the vegetables and bake for 15-18 minutes, until it is completely cooked through. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to rest 10 minutes. Slice the chicken breasts into strips a 1/2" thick and set aside.
Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter. As soon as the butter has melted, use a spatula to loosen any bits from the pan, add the garlic, and stir -- about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in a 1/2 cup pasta water to the pan, followed by the pasta, and stir to coat. Lastly, toss in the vegetables and Pecorino-Romano. Top with sliced chicken, serve and enjoy!