Vegetable Pasta

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Vegetable Pasta is an amazing combination of your favorite veggies tossed pasta and slathered in the ultimate creamy sauce that is secretly healthy. No heavy cream, milk, flour, or specialty ingredients are needed to get this level of creaminess!

Overhead image of Vegetable Pasta

Is Vegetable Pasta Healthy?

While healthy means something different for everyone and can vary from person to person, Vegetable Pasta is the most healthful creamy recipe I’ve ever shared. 

This recipe is luxuriously creamy and feels totally indulgent, but we’re using VEGETABLES to make the cream base, not the usual ingredients. That’s right — a can of veggies is responsible for the creaminess and it’s really kind of sheer wizardry how this all works out! And no: you don’t need to stop by a special store or purchase anything off the internet — you can find every ingredient easily in the store, or maybe even in your pantry right now!

Vegetable Pasta FAQs

1What vegetables go with pasta?

Really, the sky is the limit here! So many veggies will pair nicely with pasta. In this particular recipe, we’re pairing broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, and corn with pasta. Here are some other ideas:

  • Edamame
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Green pepper
  • Red onion
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas

2What is the perfect serving temperature for Vegetable Pasta?

As with most pasta dishes, this vegetable pasta is best enjoyed the minute the sauce is emulsified. In fact, this is when all Italian-type pasta dishes taste their best!

3What is the healthiest pasta you can eat?

Here is an article about six kinds of pasta recommended by dietitians where there is much more detail. The overview:

  1. Whole-wheat pasta
  2. Chickpea pasta
  3. Veggie noodles
  4. Red lentil pasta
  5. Soba noodles
  6. White pasta — yes, this even made it on the list! It’s first of all delicious and truly not as unhealthy as people often think. White pasta is typically made with semolina flour and enriched with vitamins and minerals. It’s also got a good amount of protein, fiber, and a reasonable amount of carbohydrates.

As I’ve said before, there are many definitions of healthy. One person may be avoiding animal products, while another is avoiding fat, and another is trying to minimize carbohydrates. Your definition of healthy will guide how you view the many types of pasta available.

Process shots--adding the broccoli to the boiling pasta partway through the cooking time

Kid-Friendly: Check!

In fact, I couldn’t be more excited to share this recipe with you all today, because it has totally revolutionized pasta eating around my home! While my whole family adores a good creamy pasta, we typically try to enjoy these types of meals every now and again rather than an every-night type of event. This Chicken PastaCreamy Beef and ShellsCreamy Sausage Pasta, or Creamy Sausage and Mushroom Rigatoni are some of the family’s all-time favorite recipes, but only show up on the table every few weeks or when we have company over. You know, in the name of balance and trying to fit some roasted vegetables in sometimes.

But Vegetable Pasta has been on the table for about a week straight, and I’m not sure when that’s going to change. We’re getting the kids to eat loads of veggies and not even a single complaint from the whole lot.

QUICK TIP

Looking for another kid-friendly pasta that’s not cream based? Try our Corn Pasta next!

Process shots:-- images of the butter, shallots, garlic, pasta water, and creamed corn being added to the skillet and being sautéed

How To Make Vegetable Pasta

Okay, okay, I’ve hinted at the “secret” to the ultra-creamy sauce and now it’s time to break it down.

We’re using: canned creamed corn! Mix it with some sautéed shallots and a little bit of pasta water (water the pasta gets cooked in) and give it all a whirl in the blender. And this is the wizardry that becomes the cream sauce for this pasta. Yes, really. And it’s delicious!

QUICK TIP

A lot of pasta recipes call for “reserved pasta water” which simply means you’ll pull water out from the pot where the pasta and broccoli are boiling in. Yes, pasta water looks a bit less than appetizing, but it’s filled with leftover starch from the boiling pasta and plenty of salt — just what we need for this pasta dish with veggies! The final step of tossing the hot pasta and broccoli with the creamed corn sauce, and this reserved pasta water is one of the “secrets” to Italian pasta. It’s called emulsifying and that’s how you get a luxuriously smooth and incredibly flavorful sauce.

Process shots--transferring the mixture to a blender and then sautéeing corn, peppers, and carrots

Let’s Chat Creamed Corn

If you aren’t familiar, creamed corn (which is also called cream-style corn) is a canned ingredient and doesn’t have any actual cream in it. So what’s up with that name? About half of the fresh corn kernels are pureed (or “creamed)” and the other half are left whole. The two are mixed together to create creamed corn (or cream-style corn).

Another great thing about this recipe — you don’t need fresh or in-season vegetables to still enjoy loads of flavor! Canned corn and frozen veggies — it’s all going to work great in this creamy Vegetable Pasta.

QUICK TIP

We use creamed corn in this popular Chicken Corn Chowder and Thanksgiving favorite Corn Casserole!

Process shots of Vegetable Pasta-- add the blended mixture back to the skillet and then add drained pasta and broccoli and toss it all together

Different Ideas For Vegetable Pasta

  • Vegetable Pasta Bake: This Tortellini Casserole may be more up your alley! It’s a medley of veggies with tortellini and a cream sauce. Everything gets tossed together and baked!
  • Roasted Vegetable Pasta: If you’ve got some leftover roasted cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted green beans, or nearly any other roasted vegetable, it will be delicious in this recipe! Give the leftovers a quick coarse chop (if needed) and toss it in with the pasta at the end. The roasted veggies will warm through nicely and you’ll have even more veggies packed in — score! Alternatively, leave out the carrot, bell pepper, and frozen corn and instead roast whatever veggies you’ve got on hand. Again, toss these in with the pasta at the end.
    • For a summer roasted vegetable pasta variation, try a combination of green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, and corn!
  • Pasta Made From Vegetables: To amp up the nutrition even more, you can use vegetable pasta noodles instead of regular. Here is a list of a nutritionist’s favorite pasta to use that are made with veggies, lentils, chickpeas, etc. (Replace the penne in this recipe with one of those alternatives.)

Up-close overhead image of Vegetable Pasta

Variations, Continued

  • Vegetable Pasta Salad: Craving cold pasta and veggies instead? We love a good veggie-packed pasta salad. Try some of our favorites: Mediterranean Pasta SaladOrzo Pasta Salad, or this Italian Pasta Salad.
  • Pasta With Vegetables and Tomato Sauce: If you’re looking for more of a tomato-based sauce with pasta and veggies, this Bruschetta Pasta or One-Pot Spaghetti may just be the thing you’re looking for.
  • Pasta with Mixed Vegetables: If you’ve got a mixed vegetable medley lingering in your freezer, replace the carrot, corn, and bell pepper with three cups of those mixed vegetables instead!

QUICK TIP

How long are frozen vegetables good past the expiration date? According to Insider, unopened frozen vegetables can keep for 8-10 months past their printed date!

Overhead image of Vegetable Pasta in a bowl ready to be eaten

More Recipes Where We’ve Snuck In Extra Veggies:

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Vegetable Pasta

5 from 3 votes
Vegetable Pasta is an amazing combination of your favorite veggies tossed with pasta and slathered in the ultimate creamy sauce that is secretly healthy -- no heavy cream, milk, flour, or speciality ingredients needed to get this level of creaminess!
Print Recipe

Vegetable Pasta

5 from 3 votes
Vegetable Pasta is an amazing combination of your favorite veggies tossed with pasta and slathered in the ultimate creamy sauce that is secretly healthy -- no heavy cream, milk, flour, or speciality ingredients needed to get this level of creaminess!
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword vegetable pasta
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings
Calories 397kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.24

Ingredients

  • 4 cups penne pasta uncooked
  • 3 cups broccoli, finely chopped
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots (or thinly sliced green onions)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 can (14.25 oz.) creamed corn
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots Note 1
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese Note 2
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil Note 3
  • Optional: red pepper flakes (for heat), fresh lemon juice/zest if desired

Instructions

  • PREP: Chop fresh broccoli into small florets. If using frozen, let them stand out for a few minutes and then give a quick coarse chop. Measure and set aside.
  • PASTA AND BROCCOLI: Set a large colander in the sink with a glass mug or liquid measuring cup in the center of the colander. (This is so you don't forget to reserve some pasta water before draining the pasta!) Bring a large pot (5.5-quart or bigger) of water to boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water (I add 1 tablespoon fine sea salt.) Return to a boil and then add in the penne. Cook according to package directions, subtracting one minute. Two minutes before draining, add in the chopped broccoli. Right before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta water and then drain. Do not rinse.
  • SAUCE: Meanwhile, thinly slice the shallots or green onions. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to a large pot or sauté pan (big enough to hold all the pasta and vegetables) over medium heat. Once melted, add shallots and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes. Add in garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid from the pasta (just dip a measuring cup into the pot if the pasta is still boiling). Stir. Finally, add in the full can of creamed corn and mix. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Use a spatula to scrape every bit of the mixture from the pot to a blender. Blend mixture until very smooth (~1-2 minutes on high). See Note 4.
  • SAUCE CONT.: While the mixture is blending, return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter and melt. Once melted, add in 1 cup frozen corn, grated carrots, and red pepper strips and cook, for 3-4 minutes or until crisp tender. Scrape every bit of the blended corn mixture into pan and mix. Reduce heat to medium and simmer to combine flavors until pasta is done cooking.
  • TOSS: Add drained pasta and broccoli and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and toss vigorously to coat. Toss and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. While tossing, gradually add in the Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons at a time. Continue to toss until cheese is melted and sauce is thick and coats the pasta nicely. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste (I typically add 1/2 up to 1 teaspoon pepper and another pinch of salt). Mix in the basil and serve.
  • SERVE: Serve plates of pasta, garnishing with additional basil and Parmesan if desired and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if using. Enjoy immediately!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Carrots: Grate large carrots on the large holes of a cheese grater. Measure and add.
Note 2: Parmesan cheese: Grate a block of Parmesan on the small holes of a grater. Alternatively, use finely grated Parmesan cheese. Parmesan from the can will be too salty and won't melt into the sauce nicely.
Note 3: Basil: The basil adds so much to this recipe! I wouldn't recommend leaving it out, but if you aren't a fan, try flat-leaf Italian parsley instead.
Note 4: Blending: When blending, make sure to secure the lid on tightly and select the “soup” or “hot” cycle. Increase speed slowly and watch it carefully to avoid sauce exploding out or over. Remove the lid carefully as it will likely release a burst of steam. If your blender doesn’t have a hot/soup setting, you can compensate by replacing the blender lid with a folded towel and holding it in place with your hands. This will help reduce steam pressure. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 61.9g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 11.4g | Cholesterol: 25.2mg | Sodium: 153mg | Fiber: 5.1g | Sugar: 7.3g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is the best recipe for kids! They eat their vegetables and don’t complain once because it’s so good! Thank you for another great recipe!!

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