This balsamic caramelized onion pasta is a labour of love, but the results are so worth it! The sticky caramelized onion sauce takes a while to make, but you'll forget all about it when you tuck into a bowl of out-of-this-world pasta.
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If you've been following my cooking adventures for a while, you know that I'm all about making things taste amazing with minimal effort.
This balsamic caramelized onion pasta is an exception, though. You can't take shortcuts when caramelizing onions and you shouldn't, too.
Yes, keeping an eye on a pan of onions for more than 30 minutes may sound like a lot, but the result is so delicious, it's always worth the wait. Plus, the recipe calls for white wine, so you might as well enjoy a glass in the process.
What kind of onions are best for caramelizing?
Any kind of onion will caramelize, but some are sweeter than others and, as a result, will caramelize well even without adding any sugar.
Yellow and sweet onions like Vidalia are perfect for this recipe, but you can also caramelize red onions instead, as they have a lovely deep purple color instead of rich brown.
How do you make caramelized onion pasta?
So how do you make this outrageously tasty pasta? As you may have gathered by now, you need some onions to slice and caramelize in a mix of olive oil and butter until they turn sweet and brown.
Halfway through the caramelizing process, you add some balsamic vinegar to speed up the caramelizing process and give the onions a heavenly flavour.
When the onions reach a rich brown colour (about 30-40 minutes), you deglaze the pan with white wine and add some fresh thyme to take the flavour to the next level.
Once the caramelized onion pasta sauce is ready, it's time to finish the pasta. I use a mix of sundried tomatoes and capers for a boost of umami. Add cooked pasta to the saucepan and toss it well with a pair of thongs before adding freshly grated parmesan and some fresh parsley.
Recipe tips and tricks
- Slice the onions as evenly as possible, so they cook evenly. Thinner slices will speed up the caramelizing process, but you also need to keep an eye on them, so they don't burn.
- You can also add a teaspoon of sugar to help with the caramelizing process.
- A mix of olive oil and butter gives the best results when caramelizing onions. You may be tempted to cook them just in butter for a creamier sauce, but since butter has a lower smoke point, this may burn the onions.
- While onions need to caramelize without a lid on, you can cover the pan with a lid for the first couple of minutes to help the onions release the liquid.
- Besides using them in pasta dishes such as this, caramelized onions are also an excellent base for many other recipes, ranging from French onion soup and sandwich toppings to pizza and dips.
If you liked this balsamic caramelized onion pasta, have a look at some of my other delicious pasta recipes:
- 300 g (10.5 oz) spaghetti or bucatini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 30 g (1 ounce) butter
- 3 medium onions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 75 ml (⅓ cup) dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 100 g (3.5 oz.) sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoon capers, drained
- 30 g (1 ounce) freshly grated parmesan
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and melt the butter in it. Add the onions and garlic and stir to coat them well with oil. Spread the onions evenly and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle some salt over the onions, and then add the balsamic vinegar. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until the onions become brown but not burnt. Stir and scrape up the browned bits often to prevent the onions from burning. Depending on your burner, you may need more time to reach the caramelized stage. The onions are done when they're a rich brown colour.
- When the onions are almost done, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and cook the pasta al dente, about 1 minute less than the instructions on the package. Reserve a bit of pasta water before draining.
- Add the thyme and stir to combine. Next, deglaze the pan with white wine and continue to cook until the alcohol evaporates almost completely.
- Stir in the sundried tomatoes and capers, then transfer the pasta to the pan. Toss it well until covered in sauce, adding a bit of pasta water if it looks too dry. Add the parmesan and parsley, season to taste, and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 401Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 373mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 6gSugar: 15gProtein: 13g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.