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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Monday, January 16, 2012

French Onion Pastina - Cheap & Delicious

There's nothing better than when a few inexpensive pantry ingredients turn into one of the easiest and most delicious meals around.  

I am unfortunately biased against pantry meals.  I keep  a well-stocked pantry with canned tomatoes, pasta, vinegars, and beans on hand at all times, but I generally only really enjoy and feel good about a meal that has some fresh green vegetables in it or on the side.  

I should just get over it though.  Life is so much simpler when you can whip up a delicious, hearty and warm pasta meal without going out in the cold for fresh supplies.

This recipe comes from Serious Eats and I've made it so many times I almost have it memorized.  The only hardship is carmelizing the onions, which always takes longer than I expect.  Chopping the onions by hand is also no fun, but ever since I wised up and started slicing them in the food processor, it is easy as pie!

You'll need about a pound of onions (I used extra to account for the peels), olive oil, beef broth, thyme (fresh or dried), parmesan, salt and pepper.  That's it!

Oh, except for this. Pastina or acini di pepe or peperini or any tiny little pasta ball. I got this brand at an Italian specialty store, but you'll generally be able to find it at the regular grocery store.

First the onions...

Peel the onions and slice them in half to feed into the food processor.  If slicing by hand, try to make the slices as evenly sized as possible. The food processor will help with this and with the inevitable tears.

Feed the onions through the slicing blade of the food processor until you end up with what seems like an insane amount of sliced onions.

Heat olive oil in a large pan. I like to use a high-sided pan so everything fits nicely.  

Add all the onions to the pan and prepare for the slowest magic trick in history.

All these onions will cook down to a tiny amount of beautiful carmelized onions.  

This is about half way to done. You can see some brown edges, but the onions still have moisture to give up.

Once the onions have cooked down for 30 to 40 minutes, remove about 1/4 of them from the pan and sprinkle a bit of flour over the rest.  

Next, add the stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Then add the pasta.

Let this simmer together for about 8 or 9 minutes until the pasta is tender and has absorbed much of the liquid.  

When it is cooked, mix in grated parmesan.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Top with additional parmesan and the reserved onions.  

I like to serve this with leftover roast beef and/or a side salad.  It is a delicious and easy treat that is great for a cold winter night.  

1 comment:

  1. It's so delicious I'd happily eat it during a summer heat wave but yes, it's perfect on cold and stormy nights.