Spaghetti with Caramelised Onions and Lemon

Sunday, May 17, 2015
 A few weeks ago I was rummaging through my mind to find what I could douse that day's dose of pasta with. Eating foods that are out of season is one of my big pet peeves (is that how you spell it?). If it's been on a turbulent ride all the way from Guatemala, it's not making it's way into my kitchen. Obviously, once in a while I see a glowing sweet potato calling my name in the grocery aisle and despite it's labelling clearly stating it's Ugandan origins, I swoop it into my basket (like Moses in the reeds) and take it home to turn into sweet potato fries. Those instances are exceptions and I really prefer my food to come from within arm's reach, or at least within car's reach. This obviously makes my grocery list somewhat limited at times, but some foods are worth the wait. There's nothing better than peas in Spring or Tomatoes in Summer. All the impostor peas and tomatoes through out the rest of the year just don't make the cut. Speaking of which, if you've been reading up on Manu's Kitchen, there is really nothing with more of a kryptonite effect on me than a good tomato (one that came from local soil and not an airport). Yes, I'm that easy to please, guys. 

Returning back from the tangent I just ventured on, I was looking for my next move in spaghetti accompaniments (one bad decision and one's day could be ruined) when I realised I was in produce purgatory. There really wasn't much to work with. Tomatoes were a no-go, basil was on the cusp of it's stage time so that was pesto out the window... Okay, the list pretty much stops there, so I didn't really try that hard but when I saw onions in the onion basket and lemons on the lemon tree (yes, I have a lemon tree but it's like a tiny plant that lives on my fire escape and you can buy them in flower shops), I knew which direction I was heading in. 

Now one little disclaimer that I must make is that caramelised onions are no click-of-the-fingers affair. They take a while. Most of the time, I really don't think they're worth the time, or at least worth my time, but like I said, I make exceptions, and this one definitely wins special treatment. 

I posted this recipe, not just because there was nothing else in my fridge, but also because, who doesn't have an onion, albeit a little past its shelf life, in their pantry lying around somewhere at all times? If you do not have one lying around somewhere: Come on. Seriously? Get your ass to the supermarket. 

Spaghetti with Caramelised Onions 

and Lemon  


Finely slice the onions. 

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on high heat, add the olive oil and add the onions after 20 seconds or so. (Do not use non-stick! The onions need the 'stick' to caramelise). 

Turn the heat down to low-medium. Constantly stir the onions, at least every 2 minutes or so, with a wooden spoon, and keep scraping all the sticky parts from the bottom of the pan. Be very careful not to let them burn! You should have caramelised onions in about 45 minutes. The onions should have quartered in size and you should barely be able to tell it was ever an onion!). 

Boil your spaghetti during the caramelising time, reserving some of the cooking water. 

When your onions are caramelised, mix in the spaghetti adding a little less than 1/4 cup of the cooking water and tossing on a low heat until most of the cooking water has evaporated and the onions are evenly dispersed. 

Add the zest from one lemon to the pasta and the juice of 2 lemons and toss again. Add the parmesan, reserving a little sprinkle for garnish at the end. 

Toss in the fresh parsley (chopped). 

Serve with a sprinkle of the leftover parmesan, a generous sprinkle of good sea salt and black pepper and a some chilli flakes.