Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Tomatoes and Herbs from Botanica Restaurant, Los Angeles, CA
In the summer, tomatoes rule! Use them in this rich, savory, sweet and herbaceous dish. If you have some peppery arugula on hand, feel free to toss a few handfuls of that into the final mix, too; a solid black pepper bite is one of the key elements here (along with sweet-tart-garlicky roasted tomatoes and sweet-savory caramelized onions). We love this with bucatini, but any twirl-friendly pasta will do.
Makes 4 Servings
5 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL, DIVIDED
2 CUPS SMALL TOMATOES, HALVED THROUGH THE WAIST*
4 LARGE CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
HIMALAYAN SALT AND BLACK PEPPER
¾ POUND DRIED SPAGHETTI, BUCATINI, PAPARDELLE OR TAGLIATELLE
¾ CUP CARAMELIZED ONION MAGIC (RECIPE AT THE END)
½ CUP CHOPPED PARSLEY
1 TABLESPOON MINCED OREGANO LEAVES
1 TABLESPOON MINCED ROSEMARY LEAVES
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to a roasting pan or an oven-safe sauté pan big enough to hold all the tomatoes, snugly. Place the tomatoes in the pan, cut-side-up, sprinkle the garlic over top, and season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the tomatoes have collapsed and the pan is filled with garlic-tomato-olive oil juices. (Yum.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss the pasta with the roasted tomatoes and all their pan juices. In a blender, thin the caramelized onion magic with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a good bit of the pasta water (at least 2-3 tablespoons). Once silky and saucy, toss it with the pasta and tomatoes, add the herbs, and finish things off with a final sprinkle of Himalayan salt and a load of black pepper.
*don’t bother halving any super tiny ones; just roast them whole and they’ll burst
Caramelized Onion Magic
Makes 1 Cup Puree
The inspiration for this gently sweet, uber-savory puree is a soubise, an old-school French onion-butter-cream sauce (it’s Escoffier old-school). We make ours with olive oil, lemon juice and water instead, and treat it as a spread or dip…and we’re wholly obsessed. We’ve slathered it on toast (it’s a vegan aioli of sorts) and topped it with grilled eggplant and salsa verde, or with roasted beets, raw and roasted carrots and dukkah, all to great success. If you want to use it as a sauce for pasta, it can be thinned with more olive oil and some pasta cooking water — and it’s marvelous.
6 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL, DIVIDED
4 LARGE SPANISH (YELLOW) ONIONS, THINLY SLICED (ABOUT 4 HEAPING CUPS)
HIMALAYAN SALT & BLACK PEPPER
3 TABLESPOONS LEMON JUICE
3 TABLESPOONS WATER
Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a very large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. You’ll want to give the onions a good stir every 5-10 minutes or so, but making caramelized onions is really just about time. In a minimum of 45 minutes, possibly more, your pan’s worth of onions should have melted down to just over a cup’s worth of silky, sweet, rich onion strands. If they’re not dark enough, they’re not truly caramelized…and that’s where the magic happens!
Once they’re nice and golden-brown, tip the onions into a blender (or use a immersion blender in a pot or bowl) and add another sprinkle of salt, a good bit of black pepper, two more tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice and the water. Drizzle in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and more water, as needed, until you have a silky-smooth puree. Taste and adjust flavor as needed — more lemon if you’d like it more lemony, more black pepper if you want more of a peppery kick, more salt if the flavor isn’t popping. What’s coming off your spoon should be sweet, savory and magically delicious.
Store in the fridge (it keeps for a week, at least) and slather on things with abandon.