And then I found the pasta primavera recipe by Giada De Laurentis, which is hands-down the best one I've tried. She roasts the vegetables for more flavor, and even though the original recipe includes tomatoes, it tastes great without them. I've made a few subtle changes in my version below.
Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentis
1-2 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
2 large yellow squash, cut into thin strips
10-12 baby carrots, cut into quarters
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried herbs de Provence (can substitute Italian seasoning)
12-14 oz. whole wheat bowtie or penne pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. On a large heavy baking sheet, toss vegetables with oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
3. Meanwhile, follow package directions to cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
4. Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Serves 4-6.
Notes: Feel free to substitute other vegetables for the ones listed. I haven't tried it yet, but I've thought for a while that a nice fall or winter version might include parsnips and butternut squash instead of the zucchini and yellow squash. And then maybe goat cheese instead of the Parmesan. Amazingly, this dish tastes good even without the onions, which I leave out sometimes.
If you're feeding some or all of the pasta to people who can eat tomatoes, you can add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes right before serving. My husband likes to spice it up even more. When the pasta has about ten minutes left to cook, he heats prepared marinara sauce in a medium saucepan and then adds grilled chicken strips and chipotle seasoning. When we dish out the pasta primavera, he covers his with the chipotle chicken sauce.
This dish works well for leftovers too, either reheated or eaten cold like pasta salad.