Whole Wheat Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Kale


If last week’s Daube Provençal was a comforting and multi-stepped (but totally worth it) labor of love, let this week’s post serve as its complete, though no less delicious, antithesis.

It’s vegetarian, so counteracts any meat-eating guilt (I am my father’s daughter after all). It’s wintry in flavors so it still comforts sufficiently to drive away some of the chill brought on by that white stuff that continues to fall (and fall-one more time for good measure-and fall). Finally, this recipe makes up in simplicity for the night before prep and several hour braise of the Daube (I love that word-pronounce it like “dobe” please). You do, however, have to allow a good bit of time, say at least 45 minutes, to caramelize the onions. The nice thing is, you don’t have to constantly hover over them. Check back every few minutes to stir and adjust the flame. Fold a load of laundry, read a chapter, toast some pine nuts, whatever floats your boat. You’ll be eating in no time.


Adapted from Dinner: a Love Story (my constant counter top inspiration). Makes about 3 servings, since I halved Jenny’s recipe.

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 box whole wheat shells (I love me some Gia Russa)
  • 2-3 large kale leaves, shredded*
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • grated parmesan
  • toasted pine nuts to garnish (optional)

1. Start caramelizing the onions about 45 minutes before you want to eat. To do so, cook them over medium-low heat, in the olive oil, stirring every few minutes (you could sprinkle some salt and pepper here to taste, but the end result is so flavorful, it’s almost necessary).

2. About 25 minutes in, start heating your salted pasta water and cook according to package directions.  Reserve about a 1/4 cup pasta water.

3. Once the onions are nicely caramelized, add the kale (see below), toss to combine and cook for another five minutes, or until wilted. Do your best to separate the mixture as its tendency will be to clump.

4. Add the cooked pasta, and if it seems a bit dry, some pasta water.  Finish with the balsamic vinegar.

5. Add lots of Parmesan cheese to taste and top with the toasted pine nuts (see link in ingredient list for toasting). Yum!

*I shred kale almost weekly for salads and often have some waiting in my salad spinner in the fridge.  To shred it, fold the leaf in half and tear out the stem.  Next, roll it like a cigar and thinly slice (as you would basil, called a chiffonade-Oh how fancy I am!).

Need further caramelized onion inspiration? Allow me to suggest Pissaladière or crostini. Perhaps for your Oscar Party (go Matthew!)? Nothing but good ever came of a caramelized onion.


About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
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6 Responses to Whole Wheat Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Kale

  1. Ani says:

    Wow that looks good. I love adding balsamic to roasted veggies to enhance the sweetness.

  2. Molly says:

    Sounds delicious!!

  3. La Torontoise says:

    I love Dinner a Love Story, but did not try this specific recipe. How inspirational:-)
    Have a great weekend!

  4. Wendy says:

    I need more vegetarian dishes in my repertoire:) so a never ending supply of fresh cut kale…hmmm…I suppose that would help me eat more greens. Looks delicious!

    • Liza M. says:

      It’s all about kale lately and, I must admit, I’m starting to get tired of my usual kale salad. I think that’s why I wanted to throw it in pasta this time. It was healthy eating without seeming like healthy eating!

      Sent from my iPad

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