Easy Fresh Vegetable Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce from Bluebonnets and Brownies

A recipe for an easy creamy tomato sauce with a vegetable-loaded pasta from Amber of Bluebonnets and Brownies.

If you’re reading this, it’s a sure bet you love Shaina. I think she’s pretty phenomenal, myself. When I think back to the first time I met her, at BlogHer Food in 2010, (I swear, I thought she was 18), I remember vividly her sweet smile and sparkling mischievous eyes.

Our Shaina, she’s one of a kind.

In case you haven’t heard, Shaina wrote a book, and has been busy traveling around the U.S. to promote it. I preordered my copy of Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine months ago, and when it arrived, I was beyond stoked!

You might imagine there’s a whole lot of work that goes into a book, and probably just as much work that goes into preparing for said book to actually hit the shelves, and then all that travel…

Shaina and I don’t live nearly close enough to one another as I’d like, so I can’t just pick up the kids for an afternoon to give her a break. So instead, I’ve muscled my way in here with a guest post, hoping she’ll take the extra time for a well deserved respite. (But who am I kidding? We all know she’ll use the time to build more of the deck or plan a menu, or ferry the kids somewhere.) Shaina: Sit down and have a cup of tea.

Often harried for time ourselves, without four kids in tow, simplicity for dinner is key in this house. So is making enough to stretch into lunch the next day.

The creamy tomato sauce in this dish can easily be pulled in many directions. I love fresh basil and parsley, and try to use them both wherever I can. Fresh basil (or any fresh herb, really) delivers such vibrancy and flavor with hardly any effort on a cook’s part – it’s kind of a kitchen magic trick.

This is a primavera of sorts. Use any fresh vegetables you have on hand. Just make sure to chock the dish full of them. I added rotisserie pulled chicken because we had one left over, but you could easily make this dish stand in for Meatless Monday by simply leaving it out. The sauce and vegetables are the real stars here anyway. Even your kids (and especially Shaina’s vegetable loving kids) will think so.

1 pound your favorite vegetable pasta (e.g. Barilla Piccolini Carrot & Squash or Eden Organic)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large zucchini, diced into 1/2″ chunks
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons canned tomato paste
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once at a rolling boil, salt the water, then boil the pasta to the directions on the box, 7-9 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate saute pan, heat a pan over medium high heat. After about 1 minute, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and swirl. Heat until the olive oil slides across the pan easily, then add the chunks of zucchini.

Toss or stir the zucchini after a few minutes, allowing it to brown and caramelize a bit on each side. Add the mushrooms to the pan and allow them to caramelize as well, then add salt and pepper to the pan so that the vegetables are well seasoned to your taste. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it, then remove it to a separate bowl. Return the pasta pot to the burner, and melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until slightly bubbling and slides across the pan easily. Add diced onion to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the flour and cook for a few more minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth and milk, stirring constantly. Increase the burner heat to medium-high to help thicken the sauce. Continue to stir. Add in the Parmesan cheese and continue to stir so it melts in evenly. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and tomato paste to the sauce. Whisk it well so that the spices and paste are evenly distributed. Lower the heat back to medium.

Add the frozen peas to the sauce, and allow them to cook for about 2 minutes in the sauce. Add the zucchini, mushroom, and pulled chicken if you’re using it. Stir well to combine, then add the pasta directly to the pot. Stir gently but well so that the pasta gets well covered in sauce. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, basil, and red pepper flakes if using.

Serve immediately with additional Parmesan for garnish if desired, and a fresh garden salad.

Makes 6-8 servings.
Copyright © Food for My Family.
A born and bred Texan, Amber blogs about Texas culture and tradition with the occasional blending of her husband James’ British roots over at Bluebonnets & Brownies. She makes mean migas and has a heart of gold.


  1. I totally thought she was 18 too! Okay, maybe 19.

    This is making me wish pasta was an acceptable breakfast dish. Or is it somewhere? Seriously drooling.

  2. Pasta with tomato sauce makes a great weeknight supper and this looks yummy!

  3. Oh Amber this looks right down my alley, as with everything you cook!

  4. This is just the kind of easy weeknight meal I love to make!

  5. This sounds absolutely delicious!

  6. Hey Amber, nice to see you over here! Yes, we do love Shaina, but while she’s away, I will focus on eating this pasta over and over and over and…

  7. What a great recipe – and I agree… I have no idea how Shaina does it at all!

  8. Simple dinners are the best! This sounds so fresh!

  9. Love Shaina. Love Amber. Love this pasta dish!

  10. I love quick and easy! Pasta is one of my favorite in-a-pinch meals to make too. 🙂

  11. this loos so good!! Great guest post

  12. So nice of you to give Shaina a break – she is a busy lady! This sounds like a great meatless meal for the kids.

  13. fun seeing you over here Amber!! This looks wonderful and perfect since we have a vegetarian living with us this school year!!

  14. Mmm, wish I had a big bowl of this right now!

  15. I just love everything about this dish. The ease, the vegetables, that tomato sauce. I’m going to make mine with some fresh rosemary as well. And yes Shaina – sit down and put your feet up!!

  16. Great to have you here, Amber. I need a huge bowl of this delicious pasta. Right now!

  17. Amber, you DO have a heart of gold. What a great idea to guest post for Shaina. I’m going to follow the recipe to a T, and give myself the biggest bowl. xox

  18. This creamy tomato sauce looks like a great go-to recipe to have on hand for any season!

  19. Love this! And Shaina totally looks 18…

  20. This recipe looks really good
    Especially with the basil in it 🙂
    Have to give it a try really soon

  21. I wish I could dig into this right now.

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