Being alone with your thoughts in Central Park at night in 15 degree (but-feels-like-2) weather while wearing five layers of clothing and a pair of foot warmers on your hands is, well.  Interesting.

There you are on a park bench, surrounded by the coats and bags of the members of your running group, which you are supposed to be watching, blasting Nicki Minaj from your phone so that you feel less vulnerably alone (and so that any predator-like homeless people will be scared away.  Nicki is a force, people, not to be reckoned with). Just. Thinking.

Primarily you’re wondering whether you hear any suspicious characters lurking around any and every corner.  Which then, of course, leads you to ponder what your mother would think if she knew where you were.  (Conclusion – she would not be pleased. Then again, neither are your toes, which are now reaching varying degrees of numb…so really, who could blame her?)

Sometimes, you really are too dedicated for your own good.

And it’s quite satisfying.


Equally as satisfying as knowing that you have this healthy.delicious pasta to come home to.  Win.

But wait, isn’t that an oxymoron?, you say.  Healthy pasta?? Sounds weird.

Au contraire, mon ami.  Too often, the New Year’s Resolution-haze in which we find ourselves at this time of year makes us want to throw pasta to the curb, deploring it for being “too rich”, “too high carb” or “too delicious”.  But, as full-blooded food lovers, do we really think such a diet is sustainable? And if not, why even bother?

I am of the mentality that it’s better to make a lifestyle change than it is to adopt some kind of fad diet for a period of time.  And for me, that means all things in moderation.  Dessert and pasta included.  And truly, it’s really not that hard to turn a pasta dish into something that’s really good for you.

Case in point. There are three.bunches of kale in this dish.  Plus parsnips.  Plus red wine which is chock full of antioxidants.  Plus Barilla’s high fiber pasta, which is good for the soul and for your intestinal health.  Yup, that’s pretty much what I want in my belly.  Every night.  Now that, my friends, is a “diet” I can live with. Forever.

Barilla actually has lots of great healthy pasta varieties, such as their White Fiber, Whole Grain, Veggie-infused, and Barilla Plus, which they were so kind to send me for some sampling.  Not only that, but they were nice enough to offer a GIVEAWAY for my readers so that you all can cook up some good-for-you pasta meals as well!  Two of you will win a package with a variety of these fabulous pastas.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me what your favorite healthy pasta meal is.  I will choose a winner next Wednesday, the 30th.

For more healthy living, Eat.Live.Be. inspiration, check out Cate’s, Sarah’s, and Patsy’s blogs today!


One year ago…Broccoli Basil Mac and Cheese
Three years ago…Slow-Roasted Beets with Buttermilk Blue Cheese, Arugula and Toasted Pecans
Four years ago…Grilled Cheese with Tomatoes and Black Olives

Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions and Parsnips
Serves 5-6, adapted from Cooking Light October 2010


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb parsnips, sliced diagonally
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 bunches black lacinato kale, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 12 oz uncooked penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper


  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the parsnips to the pan and cook until tender and browned, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Place in a large bowl and keep warm.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in the same skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 20 minutes or until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the thyme and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in the kale and the broth. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Uncover and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Add the drained pasta to the kale mixture. Stir in the parsnips, 1/2 cup cooking liquid, 1/4 cup parmesan, salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 minute or until heated through.  Add remaining cooking liquid, if needed. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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103 Responses to Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions and Parsnips {GIVEAWAY +}

  1. It would be a sad, sad day if I had to give up pasta. Love this combo. And you really are crazy, I do NOT do well in the cold!

  2. Simply Life says:

    oh this pasta does look delicious! hope your toes were able to warm up again! 🙂

  3. I made butternut squash-stuffed pasta shells for a reunion last year, which I think goes down as best.pasta.accomplished.ever.

  4. I love that there’s so much kale in this dish!
    My favorite pasta dish has to be a healthified butternut squash mac n ‘cheese!!

  5. Jen Gavey says:

    My favorite is spaghetti with homemade sauce. I fill my sauce with all kinds of veggies.

  6. Laura in Pgh says:

    Love whole grain pasta with stir fried red pepper, onions, garlic & shrimp. Topped with a bit of goat cheese.

  7. Ania K says:

    I love all of the kale you used! My favorite pasta dish to make is with a walnut-pesto where I sneak in some extra spinach or kale, and then add some more veggies and some veggie-Parm too!

  8. Alone. In the cold. In Central Park. *shudder* But my favorite way to eat pasta is very basic…just a little olive oil, fresh basil and parmesan!

  9. Yup, it is pretty cold right now. -25C with windshield this morning. Rob is in NYC though so I had to shovel the snow yesterday in the cold. Boo! I wish I had something warm like this to come back to… but girl, do you really run in this cold weather? Crazy!

  10. Another delicious looking dish! Plus, I absolutely agree that pasta can be healthy and eat it often (usually with lots of vegetable added in). My FAVORITE healthy pasta dish is probably a high-fiber pasta (I’ve used both the Barilla and Trader Joe brands of it) with fresh seasonal vegetables sauteed, halved cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, a bit of olive oil and a good dose of black pepper!

    I hope you are staying warm!

  11. SallyBR says:


    Love it! I am soooo on the same page as you, it’s not even funny. Fitness is a style, not a moment in time. Perfect. Perfect.

    the pasta is perfect too, you can double the amount of kale for me

  12. My favorite pasta meal is so simple! I love pasta tossed in olive oil, and loaded with roasted vegetables!! I don’t eat it much because Husband wants it with meat instead!

  13. Amy says:

    Are you crazy!?? I don’t even like taking my trash cans to the curb when it’s late and dark. And I live in a really nice area. 15 degrees. No…just….no. Never again. It was 28 degrees here a few mornings ago and I was freezing. My body has definitely acclimated.

  14. Sarah says:

    The best healthy pasta dish I ever made? It has to be whole wheat fettuccine with sweet potato cashew cream sauce. I also like throwing some spinach in during the last few minutes of cooking any pasta to sneak in some greens 🙂

  15. Rosemary says:

    I’ve been on a parsnip kick lately, and glad I found something new, besides roasting with carrots (which is very good, of course.) And healthy pasta? Sign me up!

  16. kelsey says:

    This looks AMAZE! I love to make this caprese pastsa salad with whole wheat pene, part skim mozzerella, balsamic vinegar and tomatoe and basil. NOMZ!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I love Whole Wheat Penne Pasta with lots of Roasted Vegetables & Garlic

  18. Wow, props to you for getting out there in this frigid weather to run. I can’t even get myself to get out of my warm cocoon of a bed.

    Love your veggie-ful pasta here! I’d have to say my fave way to eat pasta is probably with just a little butter and parmesan….or mac and cheese. Tough call 🙂

  19. Shewanna says:

    My favorite healthy pasta is whole wheat pasta with turkey sausage, peppers, onions, olive oil, red pepper flakes and lots of black pepper.

  20. Pam says:

    I’ve never tried black kale before. I love how healthy, hearty, and delicious this pasta looks.

  21. Amanda says:

    My favorite pasta dish these days is a stir fry medley of veggies, Genoa tuna in olive oil and whole wheat pasta!

  22. Kari says:

    I love Asian noodle dishes full of veggies!

  23. You do realize if my kid and husband see this there will be no more pasta takeaway nights right? 🙂 That has got to be the healthiest and most scrumptious looking pasta I have ever seen. I currently have about 2 bunches kale and parsnips and a tub of Parmesan in the fridge begging to be eaten like that.

  24. running has been SO cold lately. but so worth it. 🙂 my fave healthy pasta is lemony kale pasta. so good!

  25. Mbb says:

    my favorite healthy pasta is with spinach and balsamic!

    [email protected]

  26. Sara says:

    Awesome pasta – that looks super delicious! My favorite healthy pasta is a great dish I do with broccoli, cauliflower, anchovies, and pasta.

  27. alicooks3 says:

    LOVE kale and pasta… one of my favorite combos too… i also throw in lots of garlic and some anchovies or sardines…… yum!

  28. Lisa Eirene says:

    I LOVE kale and caramelized onions. I’m totally trying your recipe!

  29. My favorite healthy good for me pasta is roasted tomato pesto mixed with ww pasta and topped with Romano or Parm. cheese.

  30. Anonymous says:

    This dish sure looks good. My favorite pasta dish on meatless Monday nights is pasta with spaghetti sauce with mushrooms added to it. Thanks for the giveaway [email protected]

  31. Cara says:

    Parnsips definitely don’t get the love they deserve. Even from yours truly. They are probably my favorite part of my grandma’s matzoh ball soup, next to the matzoh balls. And yet I don’t do anything else with them year round! Must make pasta, obviously 🙂

  32. Joanne, thanks for giving parsnips some love! I am totally making this pasta dish soon! I have a few parsnips sitting in my fridge starting at me!! What a lovely recipe!

  33. Girl, you are nuts (in a good way). I walked from Murray Hill to TriBeCa yesterday in broad daylight and thought my organs were going to freeze just from breathing. This cold front can GTFO.

    My current fave pasta combo is kale/butternut squash/feta/olives/dried cranberries (a little random, but a winner. TRUST). But I love a good basil-avocado “alfredo” sauce. Mmm. Want. Seasons be damned.

  34. Lynn says:

    All that kale cancels out the carbs. 🙂 Looks wonderful.

  35. That is a yummy bowl of pasta Joanne. I am a big fan of parsnips and you know I can’t live without Kale!

  36. marie says:

    I love pasta dishes choc full of veggies. Eating just a big bowl of pasta is so 1980’s. Must incorporate more kale into my diet, looks like a yummy way to do it.

  37. be careful out there girlie! although, i shouldn’t worry too much coz i know you run fast! LOL! this does sound like the perfect dish to come home to!

  38. Fave healthy pasta meal is vegan peanut noodles – noodles with peanut sauce, lots of fresh veggies – made in less than 5 mins at home. Easy!

  39. I went riding outdoors yesterday, but I ran on the treadmill this morning. It’s my hands that really suffer in the cold weather. Your footwarmer idea sounds like a good one!

  40. Eileen says:

    Of course pasta can be healthy, especially when it’s packed with so many vegetables! I have to say I’ve never had parsnips with pasta before, but I’m excited to try them out. They actually looked like roasted fennel to me–and wouldn’t that be a great addition?:)

  41. Jessie says:

    I’m shivering just thinking about you being on the park bench. That’s dedication, girl! It’s not much warmer out here in IL and I’m spending as little time outdoor as possible. Like run-from-car-to-building avoidance of cold.

    I applaud your push for an eating lifestyle rather than fad diets! Pasta can absolutely be part of a healthy diet, and with this much kale in it, how could anyone say different? I love love LOVE veggies in pasta 🙂

  42. Beth says:

    This looks great. My favorite healthy pasta is probably Pasta with Broccoli, Sun-dried tomatoes and Goat Cheese. Yum!

    And promise me you’ll be careful when you run in Central Park!

  43. emily says:

    my favorite pasta dish is penne with butternut squash, onions, and goat cheese!

  44. Julie says:

    You say carmelized onions, I say I’m in! I used to make a big skillet pasta dish full of fresh cherry tomatoes and spinach that was delish. Why did I quit doing that??

  45. my favorite (healthy!) pasta dish is a veggie lasagna. the more veggies the better.

  46. I really like your viewpoint on diets-right on. My favorite healthy pasta dish is goulash with lots of peppers and onions and tomatoes.

  47. Pamela Joy says:

    I made a pumpkin lasanga for Christmas it was delicious . I love mixing lots of veggies with my pasta .

  48. My favorite healthy pasta is whole wheat spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce…mmmm!!! This dish looks great and I think moderation is what counts too.

  49. charj says:

    My favorite healthy pasta dish is angel hair pasta with tomato sauce, zucchini and olives.

  50. Debbie says:

    I love whole grain pasta with olive oil and minced garlic…oh, it is just sooo good!

  51. You had me at caramelized onions – cannot get enough of them! As for my favorite pasta meal, it would probably have to be something decadent like alfredo 🙂

  52. ilene says:

    Pasta with broccoli, garlic and oil

  53. Mary says:

    Joanne, this looks and sounds fantastic. I’m always on the look-out for new pasta recipes and I’ve just found one that sounds terrific. I hope all is well. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  54. Those caramelized onions are calling my name! I love this!

  55. I like Farfalle with Watercress, Cherry Tomatoes, and Feta
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  56. Candace says:

    I don’t even know what black kale is. I’ve got to Google that. The mother in me definitely does not like the idea of you being alone in Central Park and in this kind of weather to make matters worse. I do like that you eat your veggies though. 🙂

    It looks delicious!

  57. Nina says:

    I have never worked with Kale….black kale,i shud look for some. Looks great Joanne!

  58. Natalie says:

    Your pasta looks delicious, I like that you added Kale to it! My fave healthy pasta is usually brown rice pasta cooked and then sauteed with fresh cherry tomatoes, lots of garlic, hot pepper flakes, olive oil and topped with fresh parmesan cheese! Very basic but the flavor is wonderful.

  59. Reeni Pisano says:

    I keep seeing this type of kale at the store and have yet to try it! I don’t know what’s stopping me. This pasta looks so comforting! The bonus is that it’s healthy at the same time!

  60. Natalie says:

    um yes, i would love some pastas for the pantry! my favorite healthy pasta is a linguine tossed with tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms!

  61. Claudia says:

    I actually do love my pasta with seasonal vegetables. Have yet to do turnips or parsnips. Love it with the bite of kale. It’s been going down to -15 degrees F (air temp). I need this. I deserve this.

  62. That Girl says:

    I can’t wait to make this. I have a bag of penne that I’ve now earmarked.

  63. Tandy says:

    We eat very little pasta but when we do its usually Barilla 🙂

  64. Anonymous says:

    i’m not much of a pasta fan myself but would love to try some of the “healthier” versions to see if they sat better in my tummy.

    fruitcrmble AT comcast DOT net

  65. I love lacinto kale, especially with lots of garlic and onions. I’m not a big pasta person, but I imagine this would be great with quinoa, too. I’ll have to try it soon – perhaps for an upcoming superbowl party! ( Though, like you, I do not think that watching a bunch of large men running into each other repeatedly is a good way to spend a Sunday)

  66. Katie says:

    I love farro pasta cooked up with lots of veggies (currently brussels and peas). This sounds fantastic. Parsnip is such an interesting addition!

  67. Looks great! Hope the taste is as good as the looks 🙂

  68. Kari says:

    Your diet mentality (or non-diet mentality) is one I get on with 🙂 This pasta also looks like a dish I could get on with…

  69. I’m totally down with a healthy pasta! They exist! I didn’t know black kale existed until now though…I need to get on this.

  70. Pam says:

    My favorite healthy pasta is one where I sub half the pasta for thinly sliced cabbage. So good!

  71. Perfect dish!! I’m impressed you’re sitting outside with your running group in this weather (and that people are actually running in this weather!), but I guess if you have this waiting at home for you, it’s worth it 🙂


  72. Danielle says:

    I love any pasta thats chock full of veges.

  73. cindspectus says:

    I end up buying Barilla’s whole grain pasta a lot. It’s often on sale and it’s not that much more expensive than “regular” pasta, so why not? I’m Italian, I’m going to eat a ton of pasta anyway, so might as well make it healthier.

    I think my favorite way to do healthy pasta is pretty simple: reduce tomatoes with a little bit of garlic, wilt spinach, toss with pasta, done!

  74. Karly says:

    So, I’m not your mother, but I am from the middle of a cornfield where there are no scary New Yorkers and so I would just like to say no. This middle of the night Central Park running business is not approved. I’m not sure if I am more disgruntled by the running or the scary Central Park-ness. Either way, just stay home and eat pasta. It’s better on all fronts. 😉

  75. It is soooo cold! What are doing running out there!? Glad you have yummy meals like this to keep you happy and warm, though. I think parnsips are so underrated and love seeing them featured here!

  76. teresa says:

    i don’t know what makes you more brave, sitting in CP alone at night, or sitting in this cold. i have a say a quick prayer and syke myself out for about five minutes before walking outside. stay safe and warm girl!

    this pasta dish looks so warm, filling and absolutely delicious! excellent thing to come home too after a good run!

  77. I agree that pasta can be healthy and in the “everything in moderation” mindset!

  78. I totally agree with you about all things in moderation. I think it is why so many people fail at dieting…they give up too much. Your pasta sounds delicious…I love black kale. I hope you won’t be sitting on a park bench alone again as I will worry about you just like your mother. 🙂

  79. This looks so delicious and hearty, Joanne. Thanks for sharing, and stay warm!

  80. Ashley Bee says:

    Looks so healthy but also sooo delicious!

  81. You’re an inspiration for me to eat healthier. Some days, it’s burgers and fries followed by chocolate cake. Not only is this good for you, it also looks mouthwatering, Jo!

  82. Can’t believe it’s that cold out there! So I shouldn’t be complaining about the 60 degrees here in LA?

    Oh and this dish here is just gorgeous! Just look at those caramelized onions – YUM!

  83. Danielle says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    My favorite healthy pasta meal is to use either pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree with a bechemel type sauce for a creamy mac’n’cheese. I would like a plate right now!

  84. I am a pasta nut, I love pasta. I like mine with a little olive oil, fresh sweet peppers, onions, fresh cherry asiltomatoes, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

  85. Geni says:

    It’s rainy and dark here today…I definitely need a warm bowl of that fabulous looking pasta. Why were you watching the coats? I am just wondering.

  86. I love kale in pasta! and I was especially pleased by the surprise ingredient, red wine. Half a cup for the recipe, the rest for me.

  87. Dining Alone says:

    I love the Barilla plus line, I have a pantry full. Sustainability is where it is at for sure when it comes to eating habits.

  88. Velva says:

    15 degrees in Central Park…That is freezing (smile)- especially to these warm Florida bones.

    The pasta with kale rocks. I have a garden full of kale and this time of year, I am always looking for new ideas. Thanks for sharing.


  89. Blond Duck says:

    I never knew black kale existed!

  90. These are all the flavors I crave in the winter. Looks so delicious! And I’m impressed you’ve been running outside in this cold…I’ve been going straight to the treadmill!

  91. Abby says:

    ohh I love pasta dishes like this! My favorite healthy pasta is probably one I just made with a low fat alfredo sauce and arugula, yum! I’m glad Nicki kept you safe…and now I have Starships stuck in my head!! haha

  92. Heather says:

    I actually just used your Baked Penne with Roasted Veggies recipe the other night and used a combo of regular and whole wheat Barilla pasta. I like the healthier option, especially with a kiddo who is learning to eat finger foods and needs healthy options, but I don’t want to just give plain pasta to very often. Your Baked Penne recipe was a hit with our friends as well!

  93. Lea Ann says:

    Actually I have thrown pasta to the curb! But man this looks wonderful. I’m a kale fan. Thanks for the recipe Joanne … and geez, how many comments are you getting these days. Lots of fans.

  94. Chris says:

    I’d be embarrassed to share any of my pasta recipes because they aren’t exactly healthy unless by healthy, you mean, “laden with cheese, cream, and more cheese”.

  95. three heads of kale? that is my kind of pasta 🙂 and parsnips, too! yummy.

  96. meredith m says:

    I love making a broccoli pesto pasta! Your recipe looks amazing though – im a huge kale fan

  97. Johanna GGG says:

    sounds delicious and of course healthy – I agree that pasta gets a bad rap but if you eat it as part of a meal rather than by the bowlful it is not at all bad (esp if you have been running in the cold – then it is actually medicinal – right!)

  98. Jessica says:

    we love pasta with those colourful summer tomatoes!

  99. Pasta is my girls favorite dish. I try to make it as healthy as I can for them. Lucky for me they love Spinach.

    Nikki does have a lot of street cred. This according to my middle school students 🙂 Hope you enjoyed a nice warm beverage after wards.

  100. Parsnips are so underused but they’re delicious! What a great pasta dish.

  101. Chantal says:

    I love pasta with red cabbage sauce.

  102. Laura says:

    You had me at caramelized onions. 🙂 And for me and pasta, anything with mushrooms. 🙂

  103. […] One year ago…Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers With Roasted Garlic Cream and Avocado Crema, Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions and Parsnips […]

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