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Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach

Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach

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Creamy mushroom pasta sauce sounded really good on my first night at home, after I have traveled for business through 3 different states last week and have gone out to restaurants for dinner almost every single night for the last 10 days. Homemade pasta dishes are something I always crave after lots of traveling and eating out. How can you not crave something that looks like this:

Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach, pasta recipes, pasta dinners, vegetarian recipes, vegetarian pasta

While I really enjoyed the social interaction that comes from having restaurant dinners with co-workers and friends, I realized once again what a home-buddy I have become and how I longed to be back in my kitchen.

Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach

Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach, pasta recipes, pasta dinners, vegetarian recipes, vegetarian pasta

Long time ago, however, there were times when I did enjoy eating out a lot and it was the norm to have dinners out at least 3 times a week. The norm of the recent years for me, though, is to eat out maybe once a month – I wonder if that’s normal or have I become home-bound too much? So not having dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) at home 10 days in a row sort of threw me out of my routine. You know how if you stop working out for a while and then it’s hard to get back to the gym again? That’s how I feel: so glad to be back in my kitchen, yet a bit lost not knowing where to begin and what to cook. Pasta with mushrooms sounded like an easy and safe choice (plus I also baked some cookies with macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips – in my next post).

Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach, pasta recipes, pasta dinners, vegetarian recipes, vegetarian pasta

Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach, pasta recipes, pasta dinners, vegetarian recipes, vegetarian pasta

I was very happy with my first homemade dish after 10 days of restaurant food! To top it all, it turned out to be quite versatile, too. You could definitely eat this creamy pasta loaded with vegetables as a stand-alone, vegetarian dish. It also makes a surprisingly great side dish for a grilled steak, pork or chicken. In fact, this pasta recipe happens to combine all of my 4 favorite sides for steak in one: mushrooms, creamed spinach, caramelized onions, and creamy pasta with cheese.

So, feel free to eat this pasta as a stand-alone vegetarian dinner or add a piece of grilled steak, pork, or chicken.

Creamy mushroom pasta sauce recipe with caramelized onions and spinach, shiitake

Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach

Prep time: 50 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 onions, medium or large, sliced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 or 15 small mushrooms sliced (I used shiitake with stems removed)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 8 oz fettuccine pasta
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Makes 4 servings.

1) First we need to caramelize onions. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on high heat in a large skillet, when oil is heated, add sliced onions and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring with spatula. The onions should start to brown, but without burning (a couple of onions may be burnt here and there, but overall they should not be charred). Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking onions for 10 more minutes, continuing to stir, as onions brown even more without burning. At this point add just a pinch of salt over onions. Continue cooking for 10 more minutes on medium or low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn. Total you should have cooked onions for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle onions with a small amount of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Using spatula, mix the onions, scraping the bottom of the pan and coating onions with a pinch of balsamic vinegar you just added.

2) After you have started cooking onions, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in another pan, and add sliced mushrooms (I used shiitake with stems removed, you can use any small sized mushrooms). Add just a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook mushrooms covered for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring. Keep in mind that if you use other mushrooms (not shiitake) the cooking time will be much shorter, only about 5 minutes. Shiitake mushrooms need longer times to cook. If you use regular button mushroom – cook them for only about 5 minutes until they soften.

3) Add cooked mushrooms to the pan with caramelized onions, add 3 cups of spinach and stir on low heat just until spinach wilts.

4) Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.

5) Add heavy cream, milk, Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the mushroom-onions-spinach mixture on medium-low heat and mix. Add pasta to the creamy sauce, stir to coat on low heat for about 5-10 minutes until Parmesan cheese melts and starts to coat pasta as well.

6) Serve on warm plates (warmed in the oven) as is, or with more parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

cooking mushrooms

Cooking shiitake mushrooms (without stems) in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. You can use any type of mushrooms of small size.

cooking caramelized onions

Caramelizing onions for 30 minutes to reach a nice deep brown color. Deglaze with a small amount of balsamic vinegar.

cooking mushrooms, onions, and adding spinach

Adding spinach to caramelized onions and mushrooms mixture

cooking mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach

After spinach wilts, add heavy cream, milk, Parmesan cheese and salt to the vegetables mixture.

cooking and adding pasta

Add pasta and cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat so that creamy sauce coats pasta and Parmesan cheese melts and coats pasta as well.

cooking pasta in a large pan

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{ 100 comments… add one }

  • Monique January 22, 2013, 3:41 pm

    Looks grand Julia..we love pasta.

  • Lisa H. January 22, 2013, 6:29 pm

    Going and Eating out … once awhile is Ok with me :D but not everyday though :(
    lovely plating and scrumptious dish :D

  • Loretta | A Finn In The Litchen January 22, 2013, 9:31 pm

    This sounds and looks incredible! It’s too bad my hubby doesn’t like mushrooms because I adore them but hardly eat them anymore….

  • Christine @ Cooking Crusade January 23, 2013, 3:07 am

    I’ve recently gone gluten/dairy free but this recipe looks soo mouthwateringly good!

    • Joan January 14, 2014, 9:38 am

      I would make it with soaked overnight,raw cashews for the creaminess instead of the heavy cream.

      • Julia January 15, 2014, 2:38 pm

        Joan, I’ve never used cashews in place of heavy cream, but would love to try! I love nuts and if they could replace the cream – that would be a perfect version of this recipe to try!

        • jamie February 13, 2014, 12:38 am

          i don’t understand…. cashews in place of heavy cream? how does that work… i mean heavy cream is a thickening liquid while cashews is, well… solid foods.

          • Julia February 17, 2014, 3:07 pm

            Jamie, if you soak raw cashews (not roasted, dry ones, but raw ones) in water overnight and then blend them with a little bit of water in blender – you can actually make a cashew cream that can work as a substitute for regular cream.

  • Ari @ Ari's Menu January 23, 2013, 9:11 am

    Oooohhhh my gosh, I am drooling over here! This dish looks like absolute perfection!

  • Ashley January 23, 2013, 11:46 am

    I’m the same way now too : ) We eat out only about once a month and when I have to eat out more than that when traveling, etc. I get so thrown off! And I just miss being in the kitchen. This pasta sounds delicious!

  • Nancy /SpicieFoodie January 23, 2013, 1:17 pm

    Mushrooms, caramelized onions and spinach are one of my most favorite combinations. I love stuffing the combo into crepes –delicious. Your pasta looks to die for Julia! Thanks for sharing:)

  • Christin@fortmillscliving January 24, 2013, 8:01 am

    You have such an eye for making food look enticing Julia! I’d love a big bowl of that pasta right now.

  • Mushrooms Canada January 24, 2013, 1:40 pm

    Such beautiful photos! Shiitake mushrooms seem like the perfect addition to this pasta dish. Can’t wait to try it out myself, thanks for sharing!

    -Shannon

  • Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies January 24, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Mushrooms, pasta, and caramelized onions–I love all of these things! I’m totally craving a bowl of this right now.

  • Denise Browning@From Brazil To You January 25, 2013, 6:57 am

    Oh, yum!
    Please, a plate for me…Although I think all of it was over in a minute, right?. ;)

  • Laura Dembowski January 26, 2013, 8:30 am

    This looks so comforting and incredible. I also used to eat out all the time, but now I don’t even always eat out once a month. I was, but lately the salt in the food really bothers me, and it’s always so cold out. Staying home is just so much more inviting. I just nominated you for a Liebster Award, Julia! Please check out the details on my blog: http://piesandplots.net/vanilla-walnut-shortbread-and-liebster-award/

  • Tash January 28, 2013, 3:01 am

    I make a variation of this dish myself, sometimes adding chicken and cider for a little bit of extra bite (I think the French call it fricassee), adding cream at the last minute. It’s great with pasta or rice and is inordinately tasty. I love the earthy, ripe mushroomy flavours paired with pasta – it goes together perfectly.

  • Rico February 18, 2013, 7:56 am

    How many people does this recipe serve?

    • Julia March 4, 2013, 11:33 pm

      This made 4 servings in our house.

      • Naomi October 11, 2014, 3:47 pm

        Totally gonna try this mouthwatering recipe for thanksgiving to impress my italian inlaws tomorrow.

        • Julia October 14, 2014, 10:26 pm

          great idea! Hope the inlaws like it!

  • Renee May 7, 2013, 7:34 pm

    Made this tonight, and it was a huge hit! Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Lorena June 8, 2013, 5:57 pm

    That looks and sounds so amazing! I am now planning it for tomorrow’s supper and my mouth is watering. The photos are gorgeous, too.

    • Julia June 9, 2013, 1:14 am

      Thank you, Lorena! Let me know how it turns out!

  • Michelle @ Rosy Blu October 24, 2013, 8:21 pm

    Julia, I just made this and it’s AMAZING. Thank you for bringing this delicious recipe into my life :) xo

    • Julia October 24, 2013, 11:55 pm

      So glad you liked it! :) Thanks for stopping by! :)

  • Lauren November 11, 2013, 12:41 am

    SO good! Just made this for dinner and another one of your recipes for breakfast earlier today. SO good! Thank you for sharing!

    • Julia November 12, 2013, 2:00 am

      Lauren, glad you liked it! It’s simple but good! You’re very welcome – that’s what the recipes are for : sharing! :)

  • Tatiana November 12, 2013, 7:51 am

    Had this pasta (with portabella mushrooms) for dinner today, and it was delicious! I didn’t caramelized the onion to preserve its nutritional value; so it saved me time.
    Thank you for sharing! I will definitely try some of your other recipes (crepes and solyanka are on the menu for this week)! :)

    • Julia November 13, 2013, 3:03 am

      Glad you liked it! I bet even without caramelizing, the onions were still good! I just love onion. That mushroom solyanka is so good – my friend made it and I’ve been eating it for days – it’s not really a soup, but more like a stew/sauteed veggies.

  • Sheila November 12, 2013, 5:52 pm

    Thanks for such a great recipe – absolutely delicious!! Are you a chef – your presentations are beautiful!

    • Julia November 13, 2013, 3:00 am

      Sheila, you’re very sweet! :) Thank you! Unfortunately, I am not a chef, but just enjoying my food! :)

  • Debby December 2, 2013, 1:22 am

    You can’t go wrong with carmelized onions, mushrooms and spinach. Mmm mmm my favorites. Made this dish for my husband and I and just know this will be a dish added into our dinner rotations!!

    • Julia December 7, 2013, 3:22 am

      Debby, thanks for stopping by! I am so glad to know that you liked the recipe! You’re right – you can’t go wrong with those ingredients! :)

  • Donna December 3, 2013, 10:15 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! Made it tonight. The family loved it!

    • Julia December 7, 2013, 3:21 am

      Donna, so happy to hear that! :)

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious December 7, 2013, 8:27 pm

    I think I just found tonight’s dinner!

  • Peggy December 8, 2013, 1:45 pm

    Everything that I love just in the name. Can’t wait to make this and I think I have it all on hand. Thank you, I know I will love it.

    • Julia December 19, 2013, 2:59 pm

      Thank you, Peggy! Exactly – this dish has all my favorite things in it too: caramelized onions, spinach, mushrooms. Hope you liked it! :)

  • Becky December 8, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Julia, I absolutely love your recipes!! I pin sooo many of them that I sometimes think people think I’m in cohoots with you LOL!! This pasta dish is to die for and of course, I’m sharing.
    Thank-you so much,
    Becky

    • Julia December 19, 2013, 2:57 pm

      Becky, thank you very much for pinning so many of my recipes! :) I am flattered! :)

    • Camy January 23, 2014, 2:10 pm

      My husband & I didn’t care for this at all. It does look good in the photos, and we liked every ingredient in it, just not this combination.

  • Noel M. January 3, 2014, 9:21 pm

    This recipe was Ahhhhh-maaaaa-zinnnnnnggggg!!! Loved every bite!! The step by step directions with the lovely photos made this dish effortless. I have already passed it along to two co-workers!! Thanks for a beautiful pasta dish!! =)

    • Julia January 6, 2014, 2:57 pm

      Noel, thank you for such a sweet comment! It made my Monday! :) I am so glad you liked it!

  • Sarah January 10, 2014, 9:11 pm

    I tried this the other night. It came out very good; savory.
    Took leftovers to work the next day, and it was just as great.

    • Julia January 13, 2014, 2:55 pm

      Sarah, I am very glad you liked this dish! Love having leftovers for work the next day!

  • Janine January 11, 2014, 7:59 pm

    Wow! My husband and I were fighting over who would get thirds! Made this with fresh, whole-wheat pasta — delicious! Thanks for the excellent recipe and instructions, I think this is the first time I’ve caramelized onions without burning them! :)

    • Julia January 13, 2014, 2:53 pm

      Janine, thank you very much for such a sweet comment! So glad to hear you liked the recipe and that caramelized onion came out great for you! ;)

  • colleen January 12, 2014, 2:05 pm

    This looks delish. Do you undercook the pasta by 5 minutes to compensate for the pasta cooking in the cream sauce? I want to avoid overcooked pasta.

    Thanks

    • Julia January 13, 2014, 2:52 pm

      Colleen, yes, I do actually undercook pasta in most of my pasta recipes. I would undercook it in this recipe too, since the pasta will be cooking for 5-10 minutes on low heat in the cream sauce.

  • Adrian January 14, 2014, 4:15 pm

    Do these onions and mushrooms reheat well so I could make them ahead of time?

    • Julia January 15, 2014, 2:34 pm

      Yes, onions and mushrooms reheat well – you can make them in advance. I usually make caramelized onions in advance. The whole dish reheats pretty well after being refrigerated.

  • Ellen January 16, 2014, 8:56 pm

    Yum! Just made this for dinner, but added a bit o’ bacon. Thanks for the recipe:)

    • Julia January 17, 2014, 2:39 pm

      Oh yes, bacon would be so good in this recipe! I add bacon to my pasta dishes all the time – my hubby always needs some kind of meat in a dinner! :)

  • hayley January 27, 2014, 6:58 pm

    Made this tonight and it was delicious!!!!!!! My kids loved it too! And it was sooooo easy to make! Loved all the pictures and step by step instructions!!! It has definitely been added to the family favorites!!!!

    • Julia January 28, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Hayley, so glad to hear you and your kids liked the recipe and that’s you’re adding it to your family favorites! :) I am flattered! :)

  • M Gannon February 2, 2014, 8:10 pm

    I made this and it was absolutely delicious! I highly recommend it.

    • Julia February 3, 2014, 2:59 pm

      Thank you! :) It’s a nice little pasta dish, isn’t it? Good on its own and is also great with grilled meat! :)

  • maye February 8, 2014, 1:52 pm

    found my new favorite pasta dish! thanks for sharing.. ^_^

    • Julia February 10, 2014, 2:50 pm

      Thank you! So nice to hear that!

  • Tristen February 15, 2014, 9:59 pm

    I just made this tonight and it was delicious! Thanks! I didn’t want to wash two skillets so I just sauted the mushrooms in with the onions after they were done caramelizing, and added pasta water instead of quite so much cream. It was a total hit, THANKS!

    • Julia February 17, 2014, 2:56 pm

      Tristen, thanks for stopping by! :) So glad you liked the recipe. Smart move on using the same skillet for onions and mushrooms! :) Very curious – did you just use pasta water + cheese and no cream at all? Or did you use some cream too?

  • Tara February 22, 2014, 8:48 am

    Made this last night for some friends. It was my first time making it. It was fantastic!!!! Everyone was so impressed! Will make again!

    • Julia February 24, 2014, 3:18 pm

      Tara, thank you for your very sweet comment and stopping by to let me know you liked the dish – it makes me very happy! :)

  • Natasha Rodriguez February 25, 2014, 2:05 pm

    MMM this looks so good! Do you mind if I share on my blog for a perfect meatless monday idea?

  • Nicci March 3, 2014, 7:56 pm

    Lovely dish! I added chicken and my husband loved it! Will definitely be making this again!

    • Julia March 4, 2014, 2:40 pm

      Oh yes, chicken would be so good here. As well as grilled steak. My husband does not think a meal is a meal if it doesn’t have meat in it, so I would also serve this with chicken or steak!

  • autumn mcneal March 9, 2014, 5:39 pm

    Hello this dish is very good I tired it twice once with steak and the other with shrimp and whole wheat fettucini tried to do a little healthier. But both ways are great!

    • Julia March 10, 2014, 3:06 pm

      Glad you liked it! I love this pasta dish + steak! Never tried it with whole wheat fettuccine but I should ! :)

  • JoJo Salvatore April 5, 2014, 6:45 pm

    Made this spinach, mushroom, onion,pasta dish tonight. It was FABULOUS!!!! The only thing different I did was after mixing everything together, I put it into a covered casserole dish and baked it at 350 degrees (for about 15 minutes) while I sauteed some shrimp. I served the shrimp on top on the pasta dish. OUTSTANDING!!! Thank you for an awesone recipe!

    • Julia July 7, 2014, 8:57 pm

      Wow, you baked it after mixing everything together! What an interesting twist! I got to try that too, since it worked really well for you! :) And yes, adding shrimp would make it even better! Great ideas – thank you!

  • Justine Kane April 16, 2014, 9:59 am

    I have all the ingredients to make this except the heavy cream, can milk be used instead??

    • Julia July 7, 2014, 8:55 pm

      I would not use milk instead – it would make the sauce too thin and watery. I do think using half and half in place of heavy cream will work, though!

  • Caria April 18, 2014, 12:29 pm

    Made this last week. Very tasty and simple meal. I will be preparing it again. Plus passing on the recipes to friends/family.

    • Julia July 7, 2014, 8:54 pm

      Thanks, Caria! I love the dish and it really is so easy to make!

  • Jen J-N April 21, 2014, 8:19 pm

    I added chix to mine and turned out great. One of my new go to dishes!

    • Julia July 7, 2014, 8:52 pm

      Oh yes, chicken would be so good with this pasta! Thank you for your kind comment! :)

  • Shannon April 24, 2014, 11:22 pm

    This was delicious! I didn’t have any spinach so I used kale. I also added a couple cloves of garlic to my mushroom sauté. Topped it off with some roasted pine nuts!
    Will definitely be making this again!
    Thanks for the yummy dish!

    • Julia July 7, 2014, 8:51 pm

      Oh mine, I got to make it with kale too! What a great idea! And, just love the addition of roasted pine nuts! Can’t go wrong with them!

  • JenB May 19, 2014, 4:52 pm

    Other blog readers, you’ve got to try this dish! It’s absolutely delicious and so simple. Julia, I’d be happy making this multiple times a week, it’s that good!

    • Julia July 7, 2014, 8:50 pm

      Jen, you are so sweet! Thank you so much for taking time to stop by my blog and leaving this sweet comment! :)

  • Lauren June 15, 2014, 4:02 pm

    Just made this tonight and it was amazing!!! Great recipe!!

    • Julia July 7, 2014, 8:50 pm

      Thanks, Lauren, I am glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Presley June 23, 2014, 10:22 am

    Tried this recipe over the weekend. We loved it. My husband thought it was a little bland (he has strong Creole roots) so I added a bit of creole seasoning to spice it up and a little bit of bacon fried crisp then crumbled and he loved it (which is amazing because he even ate the mushrooms, which he normally hates). Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!!

    • Julia July 7, 2014, 8:49 pm

      Oh yes, I love adding creole seasoning to pastas too! It only makes pasta better and more flavorful. And, of course, how can you go wrong by crumbling fried bacon on top? Your version sounds very delicious – I got to remember to make it that way some time too!

  • Laura July 24, 2014, 10:27 am

    This was delicious! I love the shiitake mushrooms, they are my favorite. This was definitely my kind of cooking; fresh, simple ingredients to create something so wonderful :)

    • Julia July 24, 2014, 2:52 pm

      Thank you, Laura! I am glad you enjoyed it! I agree that fresh ingredients always make the best comfort foods!

  • Cat July 31, 2014, 7:30 pm

    Just curious …. have you made without spinach? I have never eaten anything with cooked spinach in it … I’m scared it will taste like that gross canned stuff growing up.

    • Julia August 5, 2014, 2:54 pm

      I agree – the canned stuff is pretty gross – I never use it. Only fresh spinach – try it with fresh spinach. I actually think with caramelized onions and mushrooms and the sauce, this dish already has enough flavor, so it’s OK to skip spinach if you have a real aversion to it!

  • Sarah August 4, 2014, 10:44 pm

    I am eating this as we type!! My goodness-DELICIOUS!!!!! It smells good, looks good & tastes good! Thank you for this amazing recipe! :)

    • Julia August 5, 2014, 2:55 pm

      Thanks, Sarah!

  • redge lopez August 23, 2014, 8:50 am

    This recipe is for keeps. It’s so good! Thanks so much for sharing! :-)

    • Julia September 4, 2014, 3:00 pm

      Redge, thanks for stopping by and commenting. So glad you’re enjoying this pasta!

  • Lisa August 27, 2014, 8:36 pm

    This was great!!! Hubby even liked it and he hates mushrooms. Did add 1/2 tbs of sherry to the sauce. Was perfect!!

    • Julia September 4, 2014, 2:59 pm

      Lisa, love to read comments like yours! So glad you enjoyed the recipe. I got to try adding some sherry to the sauce, too!

  • Jessica September 14, 2014, 11:06 am

    I want to add chicken to it.. what would be the best way to do it? & how?

    • Julia September 15, 2014, 3:03 pm

      Jessica, grilled chicken breast would, or course, be the best – just put pasta alongside the grilled chicken breast. Or, the easiest option would be to buy a rotisserie chicken in the store, shred it and just mix in with the pasta!

  • Teri September 17, 2014, 10:41 am

    Such a delicious sightly sweet and creamy sauce! I’ve already made it twice in just two weeks.

    • Julia September 17, 2014, 2:40 pm

      Teri, thank you! I am glad you’re enjoying this simple recipe!

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