Squash and caramelised onion pasta

Squash and caramelised onion pasta

caramelised onion squash pasta plate

Although my living situation has improved a little since last week, it’s far from back to normal. We still have no radiators at all downstairs as the plaster on the wall they are supposed to be installed on hasn’t dried yet and I also (a lack of warmth downstairs has definitely played a part) managed to catch a bit of a cold, so I am not feeling my best today. I have therefore gone for a low effort, midweek dinner, which we enjoyed the past few days and I hope you will too.

If I am completely honest, this pasta was born out of Friday’s recipe leftovers. I simplified the ingredient prep a little by caramelising the onions for this recipe in the oven, alongside your squash (or pumpkin), which means fewer dishes to wash up. Sweet roasted squash (or pumpkin) and jammy balsamic red onion is a great flavour combo, in my opinion. I added some dark leafy veg (lacinato kale, but spinach is also good) for good measure and a decadent sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts for a cosy, autumn inspired midweek dinner. I hope you’ll approve.

caramelised onion squash pasta ingredients

caramelised onion squash pasta close up

caramelised onion squash pasta portion

15 min
40 min
15 min
40 min
  • 400 g / 14 oz peeled butternut squash or firm pumpkin
  • olive oil
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1-2 tsp sugar, adjust to taste
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 lacinato kale leaves, destemmed and finely shredded
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 200 g / 7 oz penne pasta (GF if needed), I used wholewheat
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes (I used fine Korean chilli flakes), optional
  • chopped toasted hazelnuts, to serve
  1. Heat up the oven to 200° C / 390° F and grab a large baking tray.
  2. Cut your squash/pumpkin into a uniform dice, coat in about 2 tsp of olive oil and season with salt. Place on a large baking tray, leaving about a third of the tray free.
  3. Coat onion slices in about 4 tsp of olive oil and place on the same baking tray. While squash/pumpkin pieces should be as spread out as much as possible to get a nice char, the onions slices should overlap so that they stay moist.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, giving both a good stir 15 minutes in. After 30 minutes, your squash/pumpkin should be done – if so, remove it from the tray.
  5. Season cooked onions with a generous sprinkling of salt and sugar and coat in balsamic vinegar. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, giving the onion another stir halfway through (approx. 7 minutes in).
  6. Cook the pasta in plenty of water, just short of al dente. 1.5 minutes before the time is up, save about 2 tbsp of pasta cooking water and add finely chopped kale to the pasta. Cook for another minute and drain.
  7. Heat up 4 tsp oil in a non-stick pan (I like to use a stainless steel one for this dish). Add the garlic and allow it to fry on a very low heat, stirring frequently. Do not let it brown as it will make it taste bitter.
  8. Once the garlic is softened and fragrant, add nutritional yeast, a good pinch of salt and about 2 tbsp of the pasta cooking water you saved earlier. Stir everything together so that you get a light emulsion that will coat your pasta.
  9. Add drained pasta and kale to the pan, coat well in the sauce.
  10. Stir baked squash/pumpkin and caramelised onion through the pasta, adjust the seasoning if needed.
  11. Divide between two bowls, sprinkle with chilli (if using) and toasted hazelnuts.


10 g
9 g
1 g
19 g
71 g
*per serving
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7 reviews, 11 comments
Had this for dinner tonight! Easy, relatively quick and had great flavor. I never use oil so pan roasted onions did not work but sautéing in good old water on the stovetop worked great. Oven baking the whole pieces of butternut saved me peeling time. After it cooked, just scooped out the squash. Everything ended up in my sauté pan. I added nutritional yeast and tahini for the finished dish served with sorghum pasta. I found this recipe because I have surplus onions and just happened to also have a butternut in the bin. Thanks for such an inspiring recipe!
    Thanks, Brenda! I’m delighted that you enjoyed it and really appreciate you taking the time to review, thank you! x Ania
Delicious! Switched kale for spinach and hazelnuts for cashews as it's what I had in the house, really tasty and would recommend for a mid week meal or fancy weekend meal. Thanks x
    Thanks so much, Caroline! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed it and thank you for returning to leave this lovely review - I really appreciate it. x Ania
Kaitlyn Modz:
I really don't know how you do it with these mixed pasta dish flavors. The nutritional yeast with the balsamic, the squash, the nuttiness from the whole wheat pasta... it all comes together so nicely. I used baby spinach instead of kale, and mixed it in at the end until just wilted --delicious. This and the almond butter/pumpkin/miso pasta dish are both so unique and SO worth the effort. Thank you <3
    Aw, thank you for your kind words, Kaitlyn! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoy my pastas as I love making them! Pasta (and chocolate obvs ;) ) is one thing I would struggle to go without... x Ania
Tried this tonight and it was so yummy. I love making the caramelized onions on the same sheet pan as the squash. Due to the corona virus, I made some substitutions to avoid going to the store but the recipe is very adaptable. I used a yellow onion and frozen peas since I didn’t have red onion or kale. Bookmarking this to make again!
    Hi Helen,
    Thanks so much, I am really happy to hear that you enjoyed it and plan to make it again. Stay safe! x Ania
Emily English:
Made this as a side dish back in thanksgiving! The rest of my family isn’t vegan and they thought it was outstanding!!
    Thanks, Emily! I am so happy to hear that and thank you for letting me know! x Ania
Made it tonight for dinner tonight. excellent for vegans and non alike! This one is a keeper!
    Great to hear! Thank you for your lovely feedback, Kiera! x Ania
I would really like to try this recipe! I just don‘t really like the idea of using sugar in every meal I eat (just dessert if possible). Do you think that this recipe could be also good without added sugar? And all your recipe, is it possible to donthen without sugar? What is your experience about it? Thank you in advance for your answer!
    Hi Louise,
    I totally understand where you are coming from, but sweetness is also a crucial flavour component so yes, you can skip the sugar, but the taste will be different / less balanced. In this case, this small amount of sugar is needed to offset the taste of balsamic vinegar, but then again - if you never use sugar in your cooking you may not mind. Hope that helps! Ania
Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe.
I tweaked a few ingredients, used toasted pine nuts instead of hazelnuts and used wholewheat pasta and it was an amazing dish. I was quite disappointed when it was finished!
Must check out your other recipes 👍
    Thanks, Ruth! I am glad you enjoyed it! Hahaha, and I can totally relate to your 'disappointed when finished eating something delicious' feeling :) x Ania
Just finished cooking it and the taste is phenomenal! Another excellent recipe !
    Thanks Eleni, I am really happy to hear that! x Ania
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