Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes and Kale

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This seasonal Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes and Kale recipe is quick and easy to make, it’s seasoned with savory balsamic vinegar and garlic, and it’s so beautiful and delicious! 

Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes and Kale Recipe

Ever since I started working from home about five years ago, I’ve faithfully spent my lunch break most days with a bowl of leftovers from whatever recipe I happen to be testing or photographing that morning and…Trevor Noah. Or, pre-2015, Jon Stewart. Or on the weeks that they have taken off, I catch up on my John Olivers.

And oh my goodness, I look forward to my lunch dates with these guys every day. ?

Partly because…they’re the best. And partly because their 22-minute episodes are perfect for a quick little lunch break in the middle of the day. And partly because it’s nice to shift my brain space from thinking about curry to current events for a bit. But mostly because they make me smile and laugh so hard every single day.  Which…for a “3” on the Enneagram, who tends to get hyper-focused when in work mode, and has a habit of taking life a little too seriously sometimes…is much needed literal comic relief. ?

Thankfully when I met Barclay, he was just as big a fan of “The Daily Show” as I was. So now that he’s freelancing and working from home alongside me, he’s happily joined in on these lunch dates…and also happily volunteers to taste-test whatever’s cooking in the kitchen that day. And our fave meal last week? This clean-out-the-fridge simple pasta dish, with balsamic caramelized sweet potatoes, kale, garlic and pine nuts.

Lunch date FTW!

Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Kale and Parmesan

Ha, I should probably note that this recipe came about because we have approximately zero free fridge space in our half-sized Spanish fridge. So when we had a batch of leftover soup last week that needed a home, the big bunch of kale in there taking up half of the shelf had to go. ?

Hence, this pasta.

Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Balsamic and Parmesan

Nine times out of ten, if I give Barclay the choice between sautéing up some leftovers to make a simple stir-fry, a rice bowl, a soup, or a pasta…he will vote “pasta” in a heartbeat. And I’m happy to report it ended up being a great decision with this one.

Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Garlic and Parmesan

The combination of the sweet red onions, sweet potatoes and balsamic paired perfectly with the savory garlic, kale, pine nuts and pasta. And when piled high with lots and lots of Parmesan cheese for serving? (<– I insist!)


That said, in true clean-out-the-fridge fashion, I want to point out that this recipe is also incredibly customizable with whatever random veggies or proteins you might have on hand. For example…

  • Want to add some protein? Some cooked Italian sausage, shrimp, chicken or bacon would be fantastic here.
  • Love butternut squash?  Feel free to swap it in here in place of sweet potatooes.
  • Not a huge fan of kale?  Nearly any other greens would also work here, such as spinach or collards. Or, feel free to just stir in some fresh baby arugula at the very end.
  • No pine nuts?  Literally any toasted nuts would be delicious. (Here’s lookin’ at you, walnuts, almonds, pepitas, pecans, pistachios…)
  • Vegan or dairy-free? Feel free to sprinkle on some nutritional yeast in lieu of Parmesan.

But if you do eat cheese, I recommend going big on the Parmesan here. I mean, just look at that bowl below. ?

Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Parmesan and Kale

And of course, all the better with a side of TDS, if you ask me. ?

Enjoy, friends!


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Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Kale and Parmesan (Vegetarian)

Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes and Kale

4.9 from 12 reviews

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    20 minutes

  • Total Time:
    35 minutes

  • Yield:
    68 servings 1x

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This Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes and Kale recipe is full of delicious savory Fall flavors.  And it’s also totally easy to customize with whatever ingredients you have on hand.  See above for suggestions!



  • 12 ounces uncooked pasta (I used orecchiette)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • half a medium red onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups roughly-chopped kale leaves, tough stems removed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (or chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or traditional balsamic vinegar*)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • toppings: lots and lots of freshly-grated parmesan, chopped fresh basil (optional), diced cooked bacon (optional)


  1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, in a large stockpot of generously-salted water.  Drain, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespooons butter (or olive oil) in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add sweet potatoes and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Sauté for 7-9 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally, until they are tender on the inside and nice and caramelized on the outside.  Transfer to a separate plate, and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil) to the sauté pan.  Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the kale, white wine and balsamic vinegar.  Sauté for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, and set aside.
  4. Once the pasta is ready to go, combine the pasta, sweet potatoes, kale mixture and pine nuts in the large stockpot, and toss to combine.  Serve warm, garnished with lots of Parmesan cheese and any other desired toppings.

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