Wednesday, December 28, 2011

French Onion and Asparagus Pasta

This makes me sound like a total food geek (that’s okay; I own it), but I am always so fascinated by what happens to onions when you cook them for a long time at a low temperature. It just amazes me how something that burns your eyes when you cut into it and has such a sharp flavor when its raw becomes this sweet, soft, caramelly sort of thing when you cook it low and slow. Mmmm. My mouth is watering just thinking about a huge pot of caramelized onions. (Like I said, total food geek.)

I was pretty darn excited to try this pasta out, and it definitely did not disappoint. I’d originally intended to serve the asparagus on the side, but I was feeling a little crazy that day, so I decided to mix it up with the pasta itself. I’m really glad I did – I loved the flavor of the asparagus in combination with the sweet onions.

This pasta is a lot like eating a bowl of French onion soup, but with the added bonuses of asparagus and pasta. It has a wonderful beefy flavor (just like French onion soup), so you don’t even really realize that there’s no meat in it. My husband loved it, and my boys both asked for seconds. This is definitely a recipe I’ll make again and again!

French Onion and Asparagus Pasta
adapted from Stephanie Cooks

1 stick butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
12-16 ounces penne pasta
1 pound asparagus spears, ends trimmed and sliced into thirds
2 tablespoons flour
1 can beef stock
1 packet onion soup mix
1/4 cup cream or half-and-half
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large skillet. Add onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and caramel in color, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on package in boiling salted water. During the last 4 minutes of cooking, stir in asparagus spears. Drain pasta and asparagus; set aside and keep warm.

3. When onions are caramelized, stir in flour until coated. Stir in beef stock, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and onion soup mix. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Add onions and sauce to the reserved pasta and asparagus.

4. Spread the pasta in an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

5. Combine olive oil and breadcrumbs; sprinkle evenly over cheese.

6. Broil until the breadcrumbs being to brown and the cheese is melted.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I have to try your variety- it looks awesome!