A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Buttered Onion Tomato Pasta

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Buttered Onion Tomato Pasta

It's Wednesday again already!  Not that I am complaining.  I'm getting an early start on What's For Dinner Wednesday as Alex and I have plans tonight.  I am happy to say that both my brother and our good friend Joe (G.I. Joe, as my little sisters named him after meeting him at our wedding) have both returned home to the US safely from their tours in Afghanistan.  Joe is back in the Chicago area for now, so we are getting together with him for dinner tonight-- welcome home, Joe!

I found this week's recipe on Gilt Taste, which is SUCH a fun website.  They offer discounted prices on gourmet foods, wines, and gadgets for the kitchen-- some of my favorite things!  The results of this recipe were delicious, however I was surprised that for a recipe with so few ingredients the actual cooking and prep process was very involved!  Ultimately though, the pasta was great.  Alex wasn't such a fan of the onion salad component, but he's not such a fan of raw onions in general.  On that note though, one thing that the recipe neglects to tell you is that you should remove the halved onions from the sauce when you mix the pasta in with it.  After that you're done with the onions, but Alex actually ate those on the side and really enjoyed them... so, all was not lost.

Enjoy-- and don't fault me for the corny writing in the recipe below.  I copied it verbatim. 


Buttered Onion Tomato Pasta
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a starter

Ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half along the equator
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes with juice (there are hardly any ingredients in this sauce, so show off your good tomatoes!)
  • 1 pound dried pasta
For the accompanying “salad”
  • ¼ medium red onion
  • 1 fistful soft herbs – parsley, basil, mint, cilantro *I used parsley, basil, chives, oregano
  • Mild vinegar, to taste *I used red wine vinegar
  • Salt, to taste
1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat and add the onion halves, cut-side down.
2. Crush the tomatoes by hand in a mixing bowl, and don’t squirt them all over yourself. If the tomatoes are really firm and not really coming apart, chop them up or puree them. (Or puree them after the sauce is cooked if necessary, which I prefer because it also re-emulsifies the butter.) Listen to the onion start to sizzle and breathe deep, thinking, “Oh yeah, that’s what that smells like.” Scatter the crushed tomatoes around the onion, and when they’re all in there, pour in the tomato juice.
3. Turn the heat up, bringing the liquid up to simmer, then turn it down so that it cooks slowly, uncovered, with very gentle but persistent bubbles. Season lightly with salt and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. While the sauce is cooking, slice the red onion as thin as you can, season it with a pinch of salt and a splash of vinegar, just enough to moisten it. Roughly chop the herbs, but don’t combine them with the onion. Look in the saucepan. As the sauce cooks, the butter will emulsify in, turning the red into more of a deep pink. After 45 minutes, the sauce should have reduced by about half, the butter will be threatening to break back out and float back to the top. The flavor will round out and deepen; and it should be sweet, tart, and buttery in equal measure.
5. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook the pasta ‘til al dente. As it cooks, season the sauce with salt (and maybe a pinch of sugar) to taste. Combine the chopped herbs with the red onion. Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce and serve, with a small pinch of onion salad on top or on the side. Go light on the onion salad, since you want to be able to have bites that are just pasta and sauce to revel in its loveliness.

Recipe courtesy of Francis Lam via GiltTaste.com

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