I found this gorgeous pic at fun food blog Definitely Not Martha. Please visit her--her recipes look amazing!
When I first tasted this sauce (at my aunt's house in Rome), it literally blew me away. The sauce was made from one, ordinary, and economical ingredient, and I was hooked at first bite. When you think about how delicious caramelized onions are, it's not a far stretch to imagine that slow cooked sweet onions combined with pasta and a generous sprinkling of Pecorino Romano (or Parmiggiano) would be a delicious thing. Now that it's fall, this pasta sauce is back to being a staple in our dinner repertoire. I hope it makes its way onto your fall menus, too.
PENNE WITH SWEET ONIONS
You can use any short pasta with sauce--penne, rigatoni, farfalle, etc. My Roman aunt always adds a bouillion cube to her vegetable pasta sauces. It's the secret ingredient to deliciousness. Trust me on this.
This is also a great do-ahead sauce. You can start it in the morning and just let it hang out on the stove all day until you are ready to reheat and serve.
You know what else is good in this? Pancetta or guanciale. For a non-vegetable version, you can saute 5 ounces of diced pancetta or guanciale with the onions and garlic.
- 4 extra-large Texas Sweet or Vidalia onions (or 8 normal/med-sized yellow onions), peeled, halved, and sliced thinly--they will cook down a lot
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- olive oil
- 1 Knorr chicken (or veggie if you prefer) bouillion cube
- 1/2-3/4 cup dry white wine
- water (if needed)
- a teaspoon of fresh marjoram
- sea salt (my preference these days is Maldon) and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Pecorino Romano, grated
- 1 lb of penne or other short pasta
In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch over, heat 5-6 generous glugs of olive oil over medium heat. (Italians use WAY more olive oil that we do in pasta sauces so don't be afraid to really coat your pot and then some.) Add the garlic and onions and bouillion cube and cook stirring often until onions are very wilted and soft. This should take about 30 minutes. Don't let the onions burn. If they start to stick, splash in some wine a little at a time until they no longer stick. Then reduce heat to medium-low and let the onions really cook down. They should be golden brown, not deeply caramelized. If they start to get too much color, lower heat. Again, if they start to stick, add a splash or two of water as often as needed, and give them a good stir. Keep an eye on them--adding water and stirring as needed--for about two hours, then cover and remove from heat.
Put the pasta on to cook, and while you are doing that, bring the onions to a simmer and add the fresh marjoram. Taste for salt and pepper. If the sauce needs loosening you can add a little more water or wait until the pasta is boiling and add a ladle of the pasta water. The recipe isn't meant to make a really saucy-sauce, but you definitely want the onions to be loose, not clumped together.
Combine the drained pasta with the sauce and pass the grated Pecorino Romano. It's a rich sauce so this pasta makes a nice first course for a fall dinner where everyone can have a little taste. Serves 4-8 depending on course.