Farfalle Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

Creamy Farfalle Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions.  This simple meatless Italian dinner is pure comfort food!  The bow-tie shaped pasta is perfectly matched with rich and buttery Parmesan sauce!

Farfalle Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions


Farfalle pasta is meant to be used with creamy sauces, such as with chicken broccoli alfredo (with or without chicken) or with this creamy four-cheese pasta sauce.   In fact, this farfalle recipe was inspired by another family favorite that features a rich creamy pasta sauce:  spinach mushroom pasta.
Farfalle works great both in meatless recipes and in dishes with meat.   This particular recipe is meatless.  However, you can easily add any kind of meat or seafood.  Add easy seared chicken or grilled chicken to this creamy bow tie pasta.  Who doesn’t like creamy pasta, especially if you add some chicken to it?  It’s a perfect dish to make for a family weeknight dinner.
If you enjoy seafood, add seared scallops with bacon or trout with garlic lemon butter sauce.


This Italian-inspired recipe features bow-tie shaped pasta smothered with easy cream sauce along with vegetables and mushrooms.  You’ll love this simple comfort food on a plate.

  • Simple ingredients.  This recipe requires basic ingredients that you can buy pretty much at any store: bow-tie pasta, spinach, mushrooms, onions, garlic, cream, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Packed with veggies.  This meatless farfalle recipe uses spinach and caramelized onions.  It’s a great and delicious way to incorporate more vegetables into your dinners.
  • Caramelized onions add so much flavor and sophistication to this dish!
  • Weeknight dinner recipe.  This easy recipe is perfect for those busy weeknights when you don’t have much time for cooking.  It’s also a great recipe to use any leftover chicken.  Just throw in some leftover cooked chicken together with creamy farfalle pasta, and you have a perfect family dinner!
  • Flexible recipe.  What I love about this creamy bow-tie pasta is that you can serve it as is, without meat!   Or, you can add protein, if you like.  Serve farfalle with grilled steak, grilled chicken, or fish.


Farfalle is a bow-tie shaped Italian pasta. Farfalle pasta can also be described as butterfly-shaped pasta. In fact, “farfalle” means “butterflies” in Italian.
Farfalle dates back to the 16th century in Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna Regions in Northern Italy.
Farfalle is often used with cream sauces and in tomato-based sauces.  It’s also popular in salads.


  • Make-ahead tip.  Make caramelized onions ahead of time, refrigerate them in an air-tight container, and use within the next 3 days.  You can also freeze caramelized onions for up to 2 months and thaw them whenever you need them.
  • If the creamy Parmesan sauce is too thick, slowly add a small amount of half-and-half to thin it out.  Make sure the sauce continues to simmer and does not come to a standstill, while you add half-and-half to thin it out.
  • If the creamy Parmesan sauce is too thin, add a small amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, and stir it in, while the sauce simmers.


Usually, farfalle is cooked in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes.
To prepare farfalle al dente, cook farfalle for 8 minutes, or for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package instructions.


  • Caramelized onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions , large, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Creamy pasta sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 oz mushrooms , sliced (I used button mushrooms)
  • 6 oz spinach
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese , shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pasta
  • 8 oz farfalle pasta

How to caramelize onions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add sliced onions and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring with the spatula.
  2. The onions should start to brown, but without burning.
  3. 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 a pinch of salt over onions.
  4. 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.
  5. In total, you should have cooked onions for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from heat and sprinkle the onions with a small amount of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan.
  7. Using a spatula, stir the onions, scraping the bottom of the pan and coating onions with a pinch of balsamic vinegar you just added. Remove caramelized onions to a plate.

How to cook mushrooms and spinach:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet on medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  2. Cook mushrooms for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, until mushrooms are soft.
  3. Add fresh spinach to the skillet and stir on low heat just until spinach starts to wilt.

How to make creamy pasta sauce:

  1. Add half-and-half to the mushroom and spinach mixture and bring to a quick boil. Immediately reduce to simmer.
  2. Add 2/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Keep stirring while the sauce simmers until the cheese melts.
  3. Add caramelized onions back to the skillet with the pasta sauce.

Cook pasta:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
  2. Add cooked and drained farfalle pasta to the creamy sauce. Stir on low heat for a couple of minutes to reheat.
  3. If the sauce is too thick, add a small amount of half-and-half to thin it out. If it is too thin, add a small amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, and stir it in, while the sauce simmers.
  4. Serve with more shredded parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

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