Pasta And Caramelized Onions Make A Perfect Pairing

If we are being honest, pasta is nothing without the ingredients with which it is paired. The proper pasta accoutrement, from sauce to add-ins like meat, cheese, and vegetables, can transform what would otherwise be a plate of bland noodles into something greater than the sum of its parts. While we have previously gone over the many types of pasta sauce that exist and how best to use them, we are now turning our attention to those extra mix-ins that elevate a pasta's flavor and texture to the next level. Our favorite addition to make by far? Caramelized onions.

Two key components that make any pasta dish great are moisture and flavor, without which you will have a dry, tasteless pasta. Caramelized onions deliver well on both fronts, with a glossy, jammy consistency that melts in your mouth as well as a sweet yet savory flavor. As an added bonus, these onions are incredibly versatile and can take center stage or play a supporting role in all kinds of pasta, including light and delicate recipes and heavier, more robust recipes.

Tips for making great caramelized onions

Caramelized onions are only the best pasta accouterment if you have taken the time to prepare them correctly. This includes selecting the right kind of onion for the job as well as using the proper technique. We find that the ideal type of onion for making perfectly sweet caramelized onions is the Spanish onion, thanks to its high sugar content and low sulfur content. Once you have your onions, be sure to slice them thinly to ensure a quicker cooking time and better integration into the pasta. While biting into chunks of onion may be great in a sandwich or a burger, thin strands of onion will provide a smoother eating experience here. Finally, you have to take your time. Stirring the onions slowly over medium to low heat prevents burning and ensures even caramelization.

Once finished, these onions can easily upgrade an endless list of recipes. Of course, you can let them shine in a simple caramelized onion pasta recipe, like ours from Jennine Rye, but there is no reason to stop there. Try using them to bring a tasty tang to an otherwise rich recipe like this hazelnut cream pasta, or to add a touch of sweetness to this smoky sausage, squash, and brown butter pasta.