Creamy balsamic mushroom pasta with spinach is an easy vegetarian pasta recipe made with bowtie (farfalle) pasta, and buttery caramelized onions. Vegan version available in recipe notes!
Why is pasta so darn good? Especially creamy pasta with lots of cheese…oh yes please, load it on!
This creamy balsamic mushroom pasta is made with spinach and caramelized onions.
It’s creamy, cheesy and super flavorful.
Keep this creamy pasta vegetarian or add chicken or shrimp if that’s your jam.
You can also make it totally vegan with a few changes, listed in the recipe notes.
The caramelized onions and mushrooms take a little bit of time so this dish may not be quick, but it’s easy and well worth the wait for those buttery, golden caramelized onions and almost crispy mushrooms.
After the onions and mushrooms are done, a quick balsamic cream sauce is made and everything gets tossed with the pasta, grated Parmesan cheese and fresh spinach.
Like I said before, creamy pasta + cheese=a total love match.
Tips for making perfect caramelized onions & mushrooms:
- You’ll want to stir the onions occasionally (maybe every 5 minutes or so). Stirring too often won’t give them time to get golden and stirring not often enough won’t make them evenly caramelized.
- Keep the heat on medium-low. Caramelized onions should be cooked low and slow for best results!
- The mushrooms release quite a bit of moisture so instead of rinsing under water, gently rub the excess dirt off with a clean kitchen towel.
- The last couple minutes of cooking, turn the heat up to medium-high and let the mushrooms cook until the edges are crispy.
- You can certainly make the caramelized onions and mushrooms ahead of time (up to 2 days in advance left wrapped at room temp).
How to make balsamic cream sauce for pasta:
- Once mushrooms and onions are caramelized and golden, add thyme, garlic and balsamic. Cook 5 minutes until the balsamic is reduced almost by half.
- Slowly stir in cream and simmer for additional 4-5 minutes.
- Add cream sauce to cooked pasta along with fresh spinach. Let sit 2 minutes, then stir until spinach is wilted. Add in Parmesan cheese and reserved pasta water as needed.
Creamy Balsamic Mushroom Pasta with Spinach variations:
- Add in shrimp (or chicken) with the balsamic vinegar, thyme and garlic. Simmer, flipping shrimp over after 3 minutes, until fully cooked and pink.
- Cook steak tips and serve over the pasta
- Add broccoli florets instead of spinach
- Make it vegan by substituting the butter for olive or avocado oil, heavy cream for oat milk or coconut milk and by using nutritional yeast instead of grated cheese.
For more family dinner recipes try:
- 4 tbsp of butter, divided (see notes for vegan)
- 2 yellow onions, sliced thinly
- 16 ounces mushrooms, sliced (see recipe notes)
- salt, to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 lb Farfalle pasta, or any type of pasta
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup heavy cream, or half & half (see notes for vegan)
- 2 cups spinach
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (see notes for vegan)
- Pepper, to taste
- Melt 3 tbsp butter over medium-low heat in large sauce pan. Add sliced onions, mushrooms, pinch of salt and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until onions and mushrooms are golden brown and caramelized. (Once the onions and mushrooms are golden, I turn the heat to medium-high for 3-4 minutes to get them deeply browned and almost crispy)
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until "al dente", reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain and set aside.
- Once onions and mushrooms are caramelized, add thyme, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Stir and cook 4-5 minutes until balsamic is reduced to almost half.
- Stir in cream, and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Turn off heat. Add in cooked pasta, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, spinach and parmesan cheese. Stir until spinach is wilted. Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water at a time, adding more if needed to achive a creamy consistency.
- Serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.
*Clean mushrooms with damp dish towel or paper towel to keep them as dry as possible. The dryer they are, the better they will caramelize.
*For vegan version: substitute olive or avocado oil for butter, oat milk or coconut milk for heavy cream, and nutritional yeast or other vegan cheese for parmesan cheese.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 386 g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 462Total Fat: 24.42gSaturated Fat: 14.09gTrans Fat: 0.58gUnsaturated Fat: 8.15gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 504mgCarbohydrates: 46.16gFiber: 4.3gSugar: 13.34gProtein: 15.9g