I’m on a caramelized onion kick (and have been for the past 8 years).
First, let me tell you that I can eat onions ANY way—raw, sautéed, caramelized, broiled, grilled, roasted, WHATEVER! They are my favorite thing to add to any dish–eggs, soups, dips, pizza, chicken, salads. I added a huge pile of them to my turkey burger the other night and they were just so buttery, sweet and delicious, that I just had to use them again, two nights later.
Surprisingly enough, I haven’t eaten pasta in quite a while and I’ve been craving it. So my first thought was to pair the caramelized onions with it. Wasn’t sure how I’d pull it off, but I knew I was gonna try. So after a very long 9 hour day, I landed at the grocery store full of hunger and ambition.
First things first, onions. I almost always buy sweet onions (Vidalias, Sweet Maui, Walla Walla). I only ever buy red or white if i’m making salsa. When shopping for onions, be sure to get ones that have no splits, no bruises, no soft spots, and their peel is still on them.
After carefully picking out two onions, I decided that my pasta dish would need something crunchy, so my first thought was bacon. Of course, I would have preferred pancetta, but the grocery store I was at didn’t carry it. Next time.
Fast forward to me at home in the kitchen. I cooked the bacon on my George Forman grill, only because there were no burners available. But if there had been, I would have cut up the bacon first and then cooked it.
I sliced my larger onion (the WHOLE thing) and dropped it into a pan with a tablespoon of butter, then drizzled the whole thing with my favorite Greek olive oil and tossed. I cooked the onions on low-medium heat for almost 35 minutes, until they were brown, soft, and caramelized. Unfortunately, this process also cuts the onions by over a half! My boyfriend always freaks out about how many onion slices I dump into the pan and I’m constantly reminding him that they shrink—by A LOT! If he comments on my onion fetish one more time, he might need to be slapped—with a raw onion.
The whole process of cooking the onions until caramelized takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The best thing for you to do is keep them on low, half covered, stirring constantly. Of course, my patience tends to wear thin and I’ve been known to turn the heat to medium and cook them faster, but, truth be told, the onions are better the more tender love and care you give them.
You’ll know the onions are done by their color–translucent does not equal done! This is my pet peeve at restaurants with dishes that boast caramelized onions, only to be served slightly sautéed. Blasphemy. You’ll want their color to be dark brown (think French Onion Soup Brown).
(I promise to post a picture of the different stages on here ASAP! )
Once my onions were done cooking in butter and turned a magnificent color and scent, I tossed them with angel hair (and a small amount of reserved “pasta water”) and then added the crunch bacon and tossed again. I seasoned to taste and topped with freshly-grated pecorino and parsley.
Dinner was a success. I’m already scheming my next caramelized dinner 😀
Do YOU like your onions sweet?? How would you use caramelized onions??