The waning days of summer, but good ripe tomatoes are still in season, and I indulged every chance to enjoy them. I won’t have such a treat during the cold winter months (it’ll be Italian canned tomatoes). Thus I posit another recipe featuring tomatoes. This time it’s fettuccine with tomatoes loaded with garlic and something unique: caramelized onions. The fettuccine, or any pasta with tomato sauce is a well-known favorite. The caramelized onions are something else. For the record, the onion recipe comes from the monthly magazine, Cook’s Illustrated (September & October 2017, Number 148). The recipe intrigued me. I have my own method of making caramelized onions. But this one was different that a baking soda solution is added to the dish. It rendered a novel tangy taste.
Again, let me state that any pasta, tubular or string can be used in this recipe. We happen to have fettuccine on hand, and that was it.
FETTUCCINE WITH TOMATOES, GARLIC AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS
1/2 cup olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
1 pound fettuccine
3 large onions, halved and slice through root and 1/4-inch thick
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- In a large pan or skillet, heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushed red pepper, salt, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes break down and form a sauce., about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, but reserve 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.
- While pasta cooks, bring onions, 3/4 water, and salt to a boil, in the same skillet as before, over high heat. Cover and cook until water has evaporated and onions start to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
- Uncover, reduce heat to medium-high and, with a spatula, gently press onions into sides and bottom of skillet. Cook, without stirring onions, for 30 seconds. Stir onions, scraping from skillet, then gently press into sides and bottom of skillet again. Repeat pressing, cooking and stirring, until onions are softened, well browned, and slightly sticky, 5-10 minutes.
- Combine baking soda and remaining 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Stir baking soda solution into onions and cook, stirring constantly, until solution has evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Place the sauce back in the skillet, add the pasta and 1/2 cup of cooking water to the sauce, and toss over moderately-low heat until coated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the onions. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
Yield: 4-6 servings.