French Onion Penne

French Onion Penne
So cheesy and decadent. It was seriously hard to stop eating this dish!

I’m super excited to report that we did our first Vegetarian Cooking Club this week and it was a GRAND success! I’d been resistant to doing it because it never felt like there was quite enough interest, but we had a really great group of people who were either vegetarian or just curious about making more vegetarian food and we had an awesome time and cooked some AMAZING food!

This recipe (adapted from this one) was definitely one of the faves of the day, so I wanted to get it posted and shared for anyone who is interested in it.  I’m also super psyched that it will be incredibly easy to add chicken and use it for “regular” Cooking Club as well.

In all the recipes we made this weekend, I tried to get some extra bit of protein in, whether it was in the form of lentils or pasta with extra protein. For this one, the protein all came from the pasta… we used Pow! Green Lentil Penne Pasta and it worked great! Since we were all about veggies, too, we threw in some spinach on a whim at the end and it was fantastic.


2 tbsp. butter
3 large onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 T chopped garlic
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
1 packet French onion soup mix (such as Lipton’s)
20 oz/10 servings penne pasta (I based the amount on the size of the boxes I used; I think this recipe would probably be pretty forgiving as to the exact amount of pasta you use if, for example, you only have pound boxes of pasta handy)
3 cups broth (vegetable if you are keeping it vegetarian, beef if that doesn’t matter)
1/3 C. heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère (I actually used a mix of Gruyere and Swiss)
4 cups fresh spinach

In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and caramelize by cooking them until deeply golden — about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the garlic, thyme, and French onion soup mix to the pot and stir for about a minute until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the penne and broth and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer for about 18-20 minutes until the penne is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed (though it should still be saucy).

Add the heavy cream and 1 cup of the gruyère (leaving 1/2 cup for later) and stir until the cheese is melted. (At this point, you could also mix in a few pounds of shredded or cubed cooked chicken.) Stir in the spinach until it wilts and cooks down a little bit.

If you are making this to serve immediately, transfer to a casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese.  Heat at 350 degrees or under the broiler until the cheese on top is bubbly.  If you are making this for food prep, separate into servings and top with the additional cheese. Heat it up either in the oven or microwave and melt the cheese when ready to eat.

For each of 12 servings of about 3/4 cup to a cup (don’t get fooled and think this is a super small portion… this dish is RICH): 298 calories, 9.3 grams of fat, 37.8 grams of carbs (6.7 grams of fiber), 16.4 grams of protein.

Note: This post contains affiliate links… so if you use my link to buy something, I’ll make a few bucks to help me buy more cool stuff to try out and tell you about!

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