Close-up view of capellini primavera in a large white bowl.
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Olive Garden Capellini Primavera

Cheryl Malik
July 5, 2023
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Enjoy a classic Olive Garden dish at a fraction of the cost! This capellini primavera copycat recipe is every bite as delicious as the original, with tender pasta and a light, savory sauce that’s filled with veggies. Take it a step further with your favorite soup or salad and warm, garlicky breadsticks for a real restaurant experience at home.

Close-up view of capellini primavera in a large white bowl.

🍝 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • Capellini primavera is deliciously light pasta dish that’s positively filled to the brim with tender vegetables. Broccoli florets, julienned carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, and crushed tomatoes. It’s hearty and satisfying, without weighing you down.
  • If you’re trying to eat less meat for any reason, this is a great option for you! It’s completely vegetarian, right down to the vegetable broth we use in the sauce, and it still contains roughly 14 grams of protein per serving. You can pair it with a simple side salad or your favorite soup (I’m a sucker for a good potato soup!) to make your meal even more substantial.

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • Capellini is ever so slightly thicker than angel hair pasta, but it’s not as thick as spaghetti. They’re all comparable, though! If you have trouble finding capellini at your grocery store, or if angel hair or spaghetti end up being more cost-effective, you can absolutely use one of those pastas instead!
  • This recipe calls for julienned carrots, which may sound intimidating, but it’s just a fancy way of saying long, skinny carrot sticks. Essentially, you’re just chopping. Peel the carrots and cut away the end where the leaves are or were. After that, cut the carrot into thirds – you’ll end up with three chunky pieces of carrot that are each 2 or 3 inches long, depending on how long the carrot was before. Take one of the thirds and slice it vertically into 3-5 long, flat slivers. Lay each sliver down on its flat side and slice it vertically again. This time you should end up with 4-6 thin strips of carrot that look like matchsticks. Ta-da! Now you know how to julienne carrots!
  • I recommend using unsalted butter and low-sodium vegetable broth to make the capellini primavera sauce. This isn’t an overwhelmingly salty dish by any means, but the amount of salt in regular salted butter and regular full-sodium vegetable broth can vary drastically from one brand to another. That means you could end up with a super salty pasta dish just because of the brands you chose. Using unsalted and low-sodium versions reduce that risk so you can control just how much salt you end up using.
Top-down view of a white bowl holding capellini topped with primavera sauce filled with zucchini, broccoli, and fresh basil.

🥘 More Delicious, Cheap Italian-ish Recipes

Close-up view of capellini primavera in a large white bowl.

Olive Garden Capellini Primavera

Enjoy classic Olive Garden capellini primavera at a fraction of the cost when you make it right in your own kitchen!
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Recipe Makes: 6 servings
Approximate Cost: $11.70 ($1.95 per serving)

Equipment

  • Large skillet (with lid)
  • large wooden spoon (or silicone spatula)
  • large pot
  • colander

Ingredients

For the Primavera Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (1 of 2)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (approximately 1 medium yellow onion)
  • ½ cup julienned carrots (approximately 1 large carrot)
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 ½ cups chopped zucchini (approximately 1 medium zucchini)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (approximately 3 cloves garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (2 of 2)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • salt (to taste)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained)
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

For the Pasta

  • 16 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound uncooked capellini (or uncooked angel hair pasta)

Serving Suggestions (All Optional)

  • grated parmesan (to taste)
  • chopped fresh basil (or chiffonaded fresh basil, to taste)
  • garlic-buttered breadsticks

Instructions
 

  • Add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to large skillet and place skillet on stovetop over medium-high heat. Heat skillet until butter is melted and oil is shimmery, swirling and tilting pan occasionally to distribute oil and butter across entire surface.
  • Reduce heat under skillet to medium. Add 1 cup chopped yellow onion and ½ cup julienned carrots to skillet and stir to incorporate. Sauté onions and carrots approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until aromatics have softened.
  • Once onions and carrots have softened, add 2 cups chopped broccoli florets, 8 ounces sliced mushrooms, 1 ½ cups chopped zucchini, and 2 teaspoons minced garlic to skillet. Top vegetables with 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir gently to incorporate, covering all vegetables in oil and remaining melted butter.
  • Season vegetables with 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, salt to taste, and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Stir gently to coat all vegetables. Sauté vegetables 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring often.
  • While vegetables sauté, fill large pot with 16 cups water and place pot on stovetop over medium-high heat. Bring pot of water to rolling boil, then add 1 tablespoon salt and stir to incorporate.
  • When water begins to boil again, add 1 pound uncooked capellini to pot and cook according to package instructions. Reduce cook time on packaging 1 minute.
  • When pasta is al dente, pour pasta and water into colander and drain pasta well. Set aside.
  • Add ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, 1 cup crushed tomatoes, and 1 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth. If desired, also add ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Gently stir all ingredients together until well incorporated, then increase heat under skillet slightly and bring liquid to gentle boil.
  • When liquid begins to boil, reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and cover skillet with lid. Simmer mixture 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
  • Divide cooked pasta into desired portions and plate. Top plated pasta with preferred amount of primavera sauce, then garnish with grated parmesan and chopped fresh basil (optional). Serve warm with garlic-buttered breadsticks if desired.

Notes

  • Unsalted butter and low-sodium vegetable broth are recommend so that you have more control over how much salt is in your dish. Feel free to use salted butter and regular vegetable broth if desired!
  • Olive Oil: This recipe uses a total of 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Each tablespoon is used at different times in the recipe.
  • To Julienne the Carrots: Peel the carrots, cut away the tops if needed, then slice each carrot horizontally into three chunky pieces approximately 2-3 inches long. Slice each piece lengthwise into 3-4 thin, flat slivers (depending on the thickness of the carrot). Lay each sliver down on its flat side, then slice each sliver lengthwise into thin matchsticks.
  • To Chiffonade the Basil: Stack fresh basil leaves on top of each other. Tightly roll the stack of leaves lengthwise into a long, thin roll. Use a sharp paring knife or chef’s knife to cut the roll perpendicularly, creating long ribbons of basil once unrolled.
  • Make it Gluten Free: Use gluten-free pasta, and make sure your spices, vegetable broth, and grated parmesan don’t contain any hidden gluten.
 
Estimated cost does not include any optional ingredients.

Recipe costs provided are approximate. Actual cost per recipe & serving will vary by location, store, brand, etc. Approximate cost shown does not include costs for any optional ingredients.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 408kcal | Protein: 14g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 1288mg | Potassium: 746mg | Total Carbs: 70g | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Net Carbs: 64g | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 98mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes. Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used. To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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Recipe by Cheryl Malik

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