When there’s nothing in the cupboard, you can probably still make this one.
If you only have a few things on hand, it can be hard to scramble together a dinner on the fly. But, if you’ve got a few onions, a box of spaghetti, and some garlic you can make this caramelized onion spaghetti. The deep flavor comes from the onions which are properly caramelized before the pasta goes into the pan.
This can take a while, but any cooking site that claims you can end up with caramelized onions after only 12 minutes is not giving you the facts. It takes 20-30 minutes for onions to turn all brown and sweet and it can’t be rushed with higher heat settings. But, it’s worth it in the end and the dish comes together really quickly once the onions have started to turn a golden color.
To boost the flavor you’ll make a hotspot in the center of the pan and add in some garlic and soy sauce. Then toss this all with the pasta and some of the reserved pasta water, as well as some sliced black olives. If you wanted to expand on this recipe you could add in mushrooms, veggies, beef, or sausage to the dish for even more flavor.
Then the final step is to add some basil and parsley on top. You can also sprinkle parmesan cheese on top as well, a move I highly recommend for this dish.
This tasty meal proves that you don’t need tomatoes to make a pasta dish and that you can, in fact, create a whole meal centered just around onions.
Caramelized Onion Spaghetti
15m prep time
40m cook time
- 1 lb uncooked spaghetti
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 large white onions, thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
- 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped basil
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
- 1 (4 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- grated parmesan, for serving (optional)
- In a large skillet or medium stockpot heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 25-30 minutes or until browned, stirring often. Add remaining oil and half the garlic to pan along with chili flakes. Cook for 4 minutes, reducing heat if garlic begins to burn.
- While onions are cooking prepare pasta to al dente, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water when draining. Set aside.
- Add in soy sauce and remaining garlic into well in center of pan. Cook over medium for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in basil, parsley, olives, and butter. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon pasta water to onions. Drizzle lemon juice on top and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan.
Recipe adapted from the New York Times.