Healthy Recipe: “Creamy” Pasta Primavera with Chicken & Asparagus

Healthy Recipe: “Creamy” Pasta Primavera with Chicken & Asparagus

“Creamy” Pasta Primavera with Chicken & Asparagus

Recipe by Kaley Todd, MS, RDN | Photo by Erin Kunkel

“Primavera” may mean “spring” in Italian, but traditional pasta primavera recipes have become better know for their heavy cream sauces than their vegetables. And that’s a shame because you can make a pasta primavera that tastes decadent without giving up on your healthy eating goals. This version puts the focus back on the vegetables while adding in chicken for an extra protein boost. In addition, Greek yogurt is used in place of cream, keeping the creaminess but slashing the saturated fat. Fresh herbs and shredded Parmesan offer a bright spring finish to this nutrient-rich dish.


Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 oz (375 g) whole-wheat penne
12 oz (375 g) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup (3 oz/90 g) sliced mushrooms
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) chicken stock, reduced sodium
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 zucchini, trimmed and cubed
1 cup (5 oz/155 g) peas, fresh or thawed if frozen
1 can (15 oz/475 g) artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained
½ cup (4 oz/125 g) Greek yogurt, plain, low-fat
½ cup (2 oz/60 g) shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup (1/3 oz/10 g) chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until tender, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) of the pasta water, drain the penne, and set aside.

Season the chicken with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown and no longer pink at the center, flipping once or twice, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Return the skillet to the heat and warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add another drizzle of olive oil, if necessary. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and simmer to reduce the liquid slightly, 5 minutes. Add the asparagus, zucchini, and peas and cook until bright green and tender-crisp, 3 minutes. Stir in chicken, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts and cook just to warm through, 1 minute longer.

In a large bowl, combine the penne with the warm vegetable mixture. Add the Greek yogurt and half of the Parmesan and toss to combine. Add a splash of pasta water, if necessary, to loosen the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the basil and parsley, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, and serve warm.

Makes 6 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories 422
Protein 31 g
Total fat 10 g
Saturated fat 3 g
Carbs 57 g
Fiber 11 g
Total sugars 7 g
Added sugars 0 g
Sodium 369 mg

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