Penne with Butternut Squash, Kale and Balsamic Caramelized Onions


February 7, 2012 by Sara Kreidler

When I saw a recipe for fettuccini with balsamic delicata squash and bitter greens on The Kitchn, I got inspired.  I had a few butternut squash sitting on my counter, a big bag of kale in the fridge, and bacon from the farmer’s market in the freezer.  I was concerned that the recipe as written would be too dry, so rather than just making caramelized onions, I made balsamic caramelized onions like I did when I made the best sandwich ever.

The result was fantastic.  The balsamic caramelized onions were definitely a good call.  Toby and I both helped ourselves to seconds and declared this recipe a keeper.

Inspired by The Kitchn


  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • Pinch of salt and sugar
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
  • ¾ pound kale, destemmed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, reserved
  • Grated parmesan


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 13 x 9 pyrex baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Spread the cubed butternut squash in a single layer across the baking dish and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Cook squash for 1 hour or until fork tender, stirring half way through the cooking time.  When squash is finished cooking, remove from oven and set aside.  Do-ahead option: You can cook the squash in advance and refrigerate until ready to use (simply reheat squash in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes).
  2. In a small cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium flame.  Add the onions, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and sugar, and cook over medium low flame until onions are soft and lightly caramelized .  Add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar and stir.  Reduce liquid until syrupy, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.
  3. While the balsamic onions are reducing, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium flame.  Add the bacon and red chile flakes and cook, stirring often, until bacon is crisp. Add the kale and cook, stirring often, until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes.  Add a few tablespoons of water as needed to help the kale to steam and soften up and to prevent the kale and bacon from burning.
  4. In a large serving bowl, combine the penne, butternut squash, kale and caramelized balsamic onions. Add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water if needed and stir well to combine.  Sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve.

4 thoughts on “Penne with Butternut Squash, Kale and Balsamic Caramelized Onions

  1. Hilary says:

    This looks wonderful. I cannot wait for you to get to France and get back, re-inspired and ready to share!

  2. Aimee says:

    Looks scrumptious! I’ve been trying to avoid white flour lately, but I bet this combination would be good with soba noodles! Mmmmm!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: