Spaghetti with Melted Onions and Pecorino

SERVES: 4

I know that caramelizing onions can be a pain, but this recipe will teach you a shortcut to getting there a little sooner. You’ll first cook them in a covered pot over high heat to steam and collapse the onions, and then uncover them to finish out the caramelizing. It will still require 40 minutes or so, but while they’re going, you’ll grate some cheese and finish your prep. It’s really quite an easy dish to execute beyond that.

Active Time: 1 hr 15 Mins

Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins

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Produce

  • 3 large or 4 medium yellow or white onions
  • 5 garlic cloves

Pantry

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Koshers salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon mellow white miso paste
  • 12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini

Dairy

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ ounces pecorino cheese

1. Make the melted onions:

  • Peel and thinly slice 3 yellow onions.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat for several minutes. Once very hot, add ¼ cup olive oil and swirl to coat the pot.
  • Add all of the sliced onions, and 2 or 3 big pinches of salt and toss well with tongs to combine. Immediately cover the pot and cook (still over medium high heat!) for 6-7 minutes. This will allow the onions to jump start their cooking process by first steaming and collapsing inside the covered pot, before we uncover and caramelize them.
  • After 7 minutes, remove the lid, and give the onions a stir. Add several really good cranks of black pepper (we’re talking at least ¾ teaspoon y’all!) and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so until the onions have collapsed, turned golden brown and very sweet, 40-50 minutes longer. If they look like they are sticking to the pot and burning before they are properly caramelized, turn down the heat.

2. In the meantime, prep the rest:

  • Fill a large pasta pot with water and season heavily with salt.
  • Peel and finely chop 5 garlic cloves.
  • Measure out 1 cup dry white wine.
  • Finely grate 1 ½ ounces pecorino cheese.

3. Cook the pasta and toss it all together:

  • Once the onions are caramelized (40 or minutes so later), add the chopped garlic and 1 tablespoon mellow white miso paste to the onions. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the wine to the pot, and cook, stirring, until the wine has all evaporated and the skillet is almost dry.
  • Stir 12 ounces spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Once the pasta is al dente (taste it––you are the judge!) scoop out about 1 ½ cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.
  • Add the pasta to the pot of onions along with 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of the pasta water. Cook over medium heat, stirring vigorously with tongs and adding the grated pecorino one handful at a time until the onions and sauce are clinging to the spaghetti and everything looks nice and saucy glossy.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper at this point––it will likely need more of both to really start to sing. There are very few ingredients in this recipe, so seasoning is key!
  • Divide among serving bowls and top with more pecorino and more black pepper.

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