Friday, September 24, 2010

penne with mushrooms, cheese, and carmelized onions

you guys, we need to talk about caramelized onions. the idea that with the right technique and a little bit of time, two totally ordinary ingredients-an onion and some oil-can become something completely different and amazingly delicious is one of those magical things that made me fall in love with cooking, but i had never actually made caramelized onions until now. i'd tried, but always ended up with onions that were too burnt and crispy. luckily for me, i'm taking a cooking class this semester and i finally know the secret to perfect caramelized onions.
first, you have to slice your onions into half moon shapes. cut the onion in half, then place the flat side on your cutting board and make thin slices downward. separate your slices so you have a bunch of pieces that look like parentheses.

next, sweat the onion. heat just enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a saucepan, then add your onions and stir over low heat for a few minutes, being careful not to brown the onions. cover your pot, and continue to stir every few minutes. if the onions are looking like they're starting to brown, add a little water. it should take about 10 minutes for the onions to get soft and translucent. at this point, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying/saute pan and transfer your onions into that pan. continue stirring every 5 minutes or so until onions are brown and soft, like the above photo. if there's brown stuff stuck to your pan, you want that in your onions, so deglaze the pan with a bit of water or broth, then stir until the liquid is incorporated into the onions.

now you're done with your onions! i know this is getting long, but bear with me. i just read a 50 page chapter in my textbook about vegetables. you can read this.

so, caramelized onions are delicious on their own, but maybe you want to incorporate them into a balanced meal. perhaps pasta?
or more specifically, penne pasta with mushrooms, romano cheese, and caramelized onions.

here's the recipe (well, not really. as usual, no exact quantities. but its close to a recipe):
*penne pasta (we used whole wheat)
*onions (i used half an onion for 2 servings)
*canola oil
*olive oil (i used extra virgin)
*mushrooms (i used a medium handful for 2 servings)
*romano cheese, thinly sliced or shaved (used about 1/2 cup of shaved pieces for 2 servings)

slice and caramelize your onions, according to directions above. this should take about half an hour to 45 minutes total. meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. slice mushrooms, and cook in canola oil (just enough to cover the bottom of your pan), stirring frequently, until they turn a nice rich brown. toss mushrooms, onions, pasta, and cheese together. top with a drizzle of olive oil.


Joanne said...

Caramelized onions are truly one of the most miraculous things a person can make. Especially over pasta. Delicious.

the actor's diet said...

caramelized onions are so amazing, as is pasta. together? heaven.