A couple of months ago I stumbled on this caramelized onion and yogurt pasta by Diane Kochilas. It’s just like it sounds — tangles of caramelized onions and thick, strained Greek yogurt, tossed with sunshine-yellow pasta and a few ladles of starchy water, then served with nothing more than a generous grating of salty cheese on top. Yogurt in pasta! And by all accounts, super delicious. I’ve been meaning to try it ever since, totally fascinated by the idea that you could get a rich, alfredo-like sauce from Greek yogurt instead of cream. The one thing that continues to surprise me as time goes on is how rich foods tend to overwhelm me easier and easier these days — clearly this blog shows that I still love it as much as I ever did, but somewhere along the way, slightly more nourishing alternatives, especially when they’re not “lighter” substitutes but just really genius ideas that happen to be good for you, got super exciting. (15-year-old belly with an appetite for Jack-in-the-Box breakfast sandwiches every morning, where did you go?!)
So, when I was in the mood for a big, unapologetic bowl of pasta but didn’t want to be totally incapacitated for the night, I finally tried Diane’s pasta this past Saturday. Oh my gosh, so good. This is my slightly-adapted take on it, with a little bit of chicken broth and a healthy dollop of roasted garlic paste because B2 loves garlic. At its heart, the dish is still eggy, springy carbs, but everything that dresses it is both nourishing and impossibly complementary — the onions are slowly caramelized into deep, molasses-like sweetness that perfectly offsets the tang from the Greek yogurt so that neither overpowers the other, and pungent, earthy roasted garlic adds a bit of savory pique. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about adding Greek yogurt to my pasta, but it turned out to be even more delicious than I imagined — thinned out with chicken broth, the yogurt makes a pure, creamy sauce that isn’t tart in the least, but thick, decadent, and, if anything, an improvement on cream, not a replacement. The ultimate pantry (and things that last a long time in the fridge?) meal.
Hope you’re all having lovely Wednesdays!
Caramelized onion & roasted garlic pasta.
Inspired by Diane Kochilas, via Food52. I used chicken broth here just because I liked the touch of depth it added, but it’s by no means necessary — just use the starchy water from boiling the pasta instead if you don’t have it on hand. You may want to add a bit of salt at the end to compensate.
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 cups sliced onions (about 1 to 2 onions)
- 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth, divided (plus more as needed to thin)
- 8–10 ounces homemade or storebought tagliatelle (or pasta of your choice)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (the creamier and less tart, the better — I liked Fage best for this)
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut about 1/2″ off the top of the garlic bulb so that all cloves are partially exposed. Rub the cut side lightly with olive oil, then wrap the entire bulb in foil and roast for 45-50 minutes, or until cloves are very soft. The bulb should give when touched.
- While the garlic is roasting, melt the butter in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and stir just until well-coated in butter. Let the onions cook gently in a single layer for about 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until they turn brown, jammy, and sweet. In the last few minutes, add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth to the onions to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of well-salted water to boil for the pasta. When the garlic bulb is done roasting, remove from oven and let cool. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out from the bulb and add it to a food processor or blender, then process with the Greek yogurt until smooth. Thin the resulting mixture with another 1/4 cup chicken broth.
- Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain, then toss with the yogurt mixture and the caramelized onions, then add the remaining chicken broth, a few tablespoons at a time, until the sauce is thinned to your desired consistency. Serve immediately, with black pepper and shaved Parmesan on top if desired. Enjoy!