Caramelized Onion Apple Pasta with Sage is the dreamiest fall dinner I could imagine! It's filled with the perfect balance of sweet and savory with a swirl of deep, indulgent flavors thanks to roasted garlic and caramelized onions. It's easy enough for a busy weeknight, but tastes special enough to make for a date night in.
You may have seen on Instagram that I got a box of beautiful, sweet Sugar Bee apples from Sprouts. They were SO naturally crisp and firm yet juicy and unbelievably sugar-sweet at the same time...I could hardly believe it! It honestly tasted like they were filled with honey. I was immediately inspired to start making all of my tried-and-true favorite apple recipes...but I also wanted to create something new and savory. That's how this Caramelized Onion Apple Pasta with Sage was born!
Sprouts is my go-to grocery store when I'm developing a new recipe. They have all of my favorites from brands I trust, but they also always seem to have something new and exciting to try! Every new season I'm surprised and delighted by the colorful variety in the Sprouts produce section, and apple season just might be my favorite. This season they are carrying over 20 varieties of apples! Their produce is so fresh and vibrant and I always am inspired by the foods they carry!
Ingredients in Caramelized Onion Apple Pasta
Let's make a shopping list!
- Apples - I used Sugar Bee apples from Sprouts in this recipe and they were truly out of this world. Any variety that's more sweet than tart would work well here, though!
- Garlic - I used a large head of garlic and roasted it! If you love garlic, roasting it before adding it into recipes will absolutely blow your mind.
- Caramelized Onions - This takes quite a bit of time, so if you're making this recipe on a busy weeknight, I recommend making the roasted garlic and caramelized onions ahead of time! They'll both store just fine until you're ready to start cooking. Caramelized onions can even be frozen and thaw out perfectly in the pan for a dish like this.
- Pasta - Use gluten-free pasta if desired! Make sure to salt your pasta water well, and then reserve ¾ cup of the starchy pasta water for use in the sauce.
- Extra virgin olive oil - I don't skimp when it comes to a pasta night. You'll taste a difference when it comes to the quality of your olive oil, so grab the highest-quality kind you can!
- Fresh sage - Italian flat leaf parsley leaves would also be delicious and add that fresh, herbed flavor that makes Italian dishes so flavorful!
- Baby spinach - Spinach cooks down quite a bit, but packs a big nutritional punch that I love adding it into a weeknight meal.
Pecan Pasta Topping
I made a crumbly pecan topping for this pasta, which really makes it feel like a fall treat! I started by toasting the pecans for a couple minutes, then pulsing them in the food processor with olive oil and a bit of nutritional yeast. This is another sweet-and-savory, nutty combination that perfectly pairs with the pasta and adds a satisfying crunch on top!
Pecans add a nice plant-based protein boost along with healthy fats, so they’re great for making vegan meals well-rounded. They’re also a great source of fiber, so they’re good for digestion, as well as copper and zinc. Pecans have thiamine (or vitamin B1) that helps your body convert carbohydrates into energy. I’ll always say YES to that!
Pasta with Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic
I absolutely love the combination of roasted garlic and caramelized onions. They add the most delicious depth of flavor to recipes and it's absolutely worth the time it takes! Check out my posts on How to Caramelize Onions and How to Roast Garlic, but make sure to plan for about an hour. Luckily, these can both be done in advance! Caramelize your onions and roast garlic whenever you have an hour in the kitchen, and then they're ready to go when you make dinner...and I totally suggest caramelizing a couple extra onions and making my Vegan French Onion Dip!
All About Apples
The classic advice "an apple a day" still holds true! Apples are full of health benefits and powerful disease fighting nutrients in addition to tasting amazing. They keep you hydrated because of their high water content, they’re low in calories, fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free, and full of fiber and immune-boosting vitamin C. For more information check out this article that I wrote about the health benefits of apples in The Washington Post a couple years ago with even more apple information.
The Best Gluten-Free Pasta
I've been gluten-free for years, and since I'm also a total pasta lover, I just might have tried every variety of gluten-free pasta out there! The brands I come back to again and again are Jovial and Andean Dream. They cook and taste like traditional pasta but with a super allergen-friendly ingredient list. Check out my full post of Gluten-Free Recommendations and Resources for more on my wheat-free favorites!
This Caramelized Onion Apple Pasta with Sage is a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free dinner that tastes incredible! It was created in partnership with Sprouts, a grocery store that I frequent and genuinely love. If you make this meal, I hope you'll tag me on Instagram so I can see your kitchen successes! You can also leave a review below to let me know how it goes. If easy, allergen-free dinners are your thing, I think you'd enjoy my newsletter as well! New subscribers receive a free printable download of my 10 favorite Easy Vegan Dinners.
More Restaurant-Level Pasta Dishes
- Creamy Vegan Pasta al Limone
- Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- Vegan Chickpea Bolognese Pasta
- One-Skillet Baked Butternut Squash Pasta with Sage
- Vegan Baked Feta Pasta
- Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Garlic Pasta
- Red Wine Spaghetti with Mushrooms & Pesto
- Chunky Tomato Basil Spaghetti
- Parsley-Pea Pesto Pasta
- Vegan Creamy Pasta Primavera
Caramelized Onion Apple Pasta with Sage (vegan + gluten-free)
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Diet: Vegan
Caramelized Onion Apple Pasta with Sage is sweet and savory with a swirl of deep flavors thanks to roasted garlic and caramelized onions.
For the pasta
- 1 large head garlic, roasted*
- 3 caramelized onions (3 medium yellow onions)
- 12 ounces pasta of choice (gluten-free if desired)
- ½ tablespoon salt for pasta water
- ¾ cup reserved pasta water
- ½ cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 large apples, cored, peeled and diced (4 cups diced apple)
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (plus more for garnish)
- 1 cup firmly packed fresh sage (or Italian flat leaf parsley leaves) [plus more for garnish], minced
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- fresh sage, chopped and/or Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- vegan Parmesan cheese (see notes)
- freshly ground black pepper
- AHEAD OF TIME: Roast one head of garlic ahead of time (see How to Roast Garlic). Caramelize 3 onions until crispy and golden brown. If they are still soft and tender after one hour give them another 10 minutes on low heat. Set aside.
- Make the pasta. Fill a 5.5-quart dutch oven or pot with 10 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of salt to the water. Add the pasta and set a timer for the instructed cooking time on the box. Once the noodles are done cooking, reserve ¾ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining. Drain the remaining pasta water and place the cooked noodles back in the dry pot. Toss with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add ½ cup olive oil, 4 cups diced apples, roasted garlic cloves, caramelized onions, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break up the roasted garlic cloves. They will diffuse and sort of melt into the oil as they cook. Saute the mixture until apples and fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- Make the pecan crumble. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 1 cup raw pecans on a bare baking sheet. Bake pecans for 8 minutes until warm and fragrant. Place toasted pecans in a mini food processor with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ tablespoon nutritional yeast and ¼ teaspoon fine salt. Process until fine and crumbly (about 10 seconds). Set aside.
- Add cooked pasta to the 12-inch saute pan with the apples and caramelized onions and toss well. Add ¾ cup reserved pasta water and toss well over medium heat. Saute for another five minutes until the water absorbs. Add 5 ounces baby spinach and pecan crumble during the last minute of cooking. The spinach will wilt from the heat during the last minute.
- Turn off the burner and stir in the minced sage. Taste and adjust flavors as needed.
- Serve the pasta hot with desired garnishes (more fresh sage, vegan Parmesan cheese (see notes) and freshly ground black pepper).
- Store leftovers once fully cooled to room temperature in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. To reheat, add to a large skillet over medium heat with ½ cup filtered water. Stir until noodles are soft again and the water is absorbed (about 5 minutes).
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* Cook time does not include time to caramelize the onions and roast the garlic. If possible, do this in advance. If not, add a full hour to the cook time.
Here is my quick and easy recipe for Vegan “Parmesan Cheese”: Whisk together ½ cup super fine blanched almond flour (not almond meal), 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. Sprinkle like Parmesan Cheese.
Optional Add-In: Restaurant-Style Sautéed Mushrooms (use shiitake mushrooms for extra umami flavor!)
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 35
- Category: Dinner/Entree
- Method: Stovetop
Keywords: caramelized onion apple pasta
This post is sponsored by Sprouts. All writing and opinion are my own.
This recipe has so many delicious flavors! The caramelized onions give such an umami flavor to the dish. And the apples add a hint of sweetness but go really well with the onions and sage. My family said it tasted like a restaurant quality dish! I highly recommend!
Elaine Gordon says
Thank you so much, Christina! That means a lot coming from you, a chef! Best, Elaine