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You’ll be surprised how this delicious pasta with caramelized onions turns inexpensive staples into a YUMMY pasta dish that’s juicy, comforting and full of flavor.
Trust me, onions have never tasted so good!
This winter I’m pretty obsessed with root vegetables. From this amazing collection of onion recipes to scrumptious winter salad and onion pizza, I try to sneak the versatile roots into a multitude of recipes.
I simply love their variety, flavor and the fact that are super affordable.
And since here at The Clever Meal I try to focus mostly on inexpensive meatless meals, root vegetables like cheap healthy onions are just perfect!
In this super easy pasta recipe, I cook red onions until soft and sweet and I add a splash of balsamic vinegar to enhance their flavor and deep color. And the essential sweetness of the ingredients will shine without using any additional sugar.
When the onions and the pasta are cooked, I simply toss everything together in the pan with parmesan cheese and a touch of pasta water until nice and moist. Done, dinner is ready! : )
I told you, the recipe is very easy to whip up, economical, and full of flavor.
So if you’ve never cooked pasta with caramelised onions, you’ll want to make it now! : )
List of the ingredients
- Pasta (rigatoni, spaghetti, penne..)
- Red onions (any other color works)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper
How to make pasta with caramelized onions
(Note: this is a quick description with step-by-step photos, the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)
- Peel and cut the onions into wedges. You can also slice them if you wish, but I find that the wedges look nicer and have better texture once they’re cooked.
- In a large skillet cook the onions with butter, oil, salt, and pepper for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, a touch of pasta water to the onions and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Drain pasta, reserve some cooking water, and add the pasta to the pan.
- Stir in the parmesan cheese, toss to combine and add pasta water as much as needed to make everything moist and juicy.
- Serve immediately with more grated parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper if you wish.
Onions: I love red onions, they’re slightly sweet without the sharp aftertaste as some other types of onions. They also hold up very nicely when cooked and add a deep red color to this pasta dish. However, regular onions work too.
Butter: its rich savory flavor works beautifully with onions. Both salted or unsalted butter are fine.
Extra-virgin olive oil: I also add some extra-virgin olive oil for more flavor, but feel free to use only butter if you wish.
Garlic: a touch of garlic adds more aromatic flavor.
Balsamic vinegar: it’s rich, slightly sweet and adds depth and color making the onions shine.
Parmesan cheese: its rich, savory flavor brings the dish together.
Pasta water: make sure you reserve some of that precious starchy water to emulsify the juice from the onions, the balsamic vinegar and the cheese into a super delicious sauce!
Salt & pepper: I used 1 teaspoon salt, but make sure you’re happy with the seasoning.
Note: pasta releases some of its starches into the cooking water. Using some of this starchy pasta water when you toss your pasta makes the dish moist while the salt content lends extra flavor.
Pasta with onions variations
It tastes delicious as it is, but here are a few combinations that I’ve tried and loved:
Cheese: toss in some crumble feta, blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese, they all work great with the caramelised onions.
Vegetables: spinach is another great addition to the dish. Add them in the last 3 minutes of the cooking time, while you’re stirring the pasta with the balsamic vinegar. Cook until just wilted but still bright.
More pasta recipes?
If you love pasta, I’m sure you’ll love this collection of 13 quick and easy pasta recipes as much as we do. The economical pasta allows us to whip up a filling, delicious meal in no time, these are some of our staples you might like too:
- Pasta with spinach
- Pasta with tomato soup
- Carbonara with mushrooms
- Quick pasta with olives
- Pasta with artichokes
If you make this scrumptious pasta with caramelized onions, or if you have any questions, let me know! Leave a comment, send me a message, or rate it. I would love to hear from you!
Pasta with Caramelized Onions
- ½ lb (8oz/220 grams) pasta (rigatoni, penne, spaghetti…)
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 ½ lb (approx 700 grams) 6 medium-sized onions, cut into wedges
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ⅓ cup (1oz/30 grams) grated parmesan cheese
To serve (optional)
- extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
- freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- black pepper, to taste
- Cook your pasta until al dente in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions (start while the onions are already sautéing in the pan so you can have both pasta and onions ready at the same time).
- Before you drain the pasta, scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
- In a large pan melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant for about 1 minute.
- Stir in the onions, salt, pepper, toss well to combine and cook gently for about 25-30 minutes or until soft. During the cooking time, add a touch of the pasta cooking water to keep them moist.
- When the onions are nice and soft, stir in the basaltic vinegar, toss to combine and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Drain the pasta then add it to the pan along with the parmesan cheese and toss well to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water gradually until everything look nice and moist.
- Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper if you like.