healthy vegetarian spring pasta menu dinner party special impressive

Celebrate both the season and a vegetarian or veggie-loving mom with a menu bursting with spring flavor.  This menu, which I developed for Vegetarian Times (Mother Love, April/May 2012), is all about the delicious details.  Herbs in lemonade, homemade croutons, a pretty pasta shape, and a bright berry sauce on the flourless chocolate cake make this meal special.  And the ingredients – basil, artichokes, peas and berries – scream spring.  

Fill a vase with a bunch of basil in place of traditional flowers for a fresh-from-the-garden feel.  Then pop open a bottle of dry Prosecco to toast mom and the budding season.

Vegetarian Mother’s Day Menu


Fusilli Col Buco with Braised Spring Vegetables (recipe below)

Spinach Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Coulis

Basil Lemonade

Fusilli Col Buco with Braised Spring Vegetables

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: about 1 1/2 cups



Fusilli Col Buco with Braised Spring Vegetables

This dish is worth a trip to a gourmet shop or Italian market (like Eatly in NYC) to find an out-of-the-ordinary pasta such as fusilli col buco, but you can easily substitute a short fusilli or spaghetti for the long corkscrew pasta.


  • 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups dry white wine, preferably Italian
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 18 oz. fresh or frozen artichoke hearts, halved
  • 20 baby carrots, diced (1 cup)
  • 10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, halved
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 8 oz. dry fusilli col buco pasta
  • 20 basil leaves, chopped (½ cup)
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Heat large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add thyme, red pepper flakes, wine, broth, and lemon juice, then stir in artichokes, carrots, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add peas, and cook, covered, 5 minutes, or until peas are tender and bright green.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain, and return to pot.
  • Add braised vegetables to pasta, and toss to combine. Add just enough vegetable-braising liquid to achieve preferred sauciness. Stir in basil and Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.


Liquid served from braising vegetables makes a light, brothy sauce for the noodles. If you prefer your pasta on the drier side, don’t add all the braising liquid when stirring the vegetables into the pasta.