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make-ahead lightly-carmelized-onion alfredo sauce

May 10, 2011
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Last night, I planned to make a creamy mushroom pasta sauce.  But I pulled my mushrooms out, and they’d taken on a distinct aroma – a sure sign they’d already gone bad, even though the aroma wasn’t too offensive.

I thought about just making regular old alfredo, but I thought – you know, I want more flavor than that.  Something a little fun and exciting for my tastebuds while I’m suffering through finals.

So I diced an onion and started to sautee it.  Impulsively, I threw some sugar on it and let the onions carmelize a bit before adding garlic and then the cream and cheese.    My impulse was a good one.  This stuff is delicious and is comforting me as I pore over administrative law rulings and try to cope with spring allergies.

I don’t have a whole box of any one pasta right now, though, so I didn’t want to make a whole batch of pasta with mismatched pasta shells.  Instead, I made a “make-ahead” version of the sauce and for each serving of pasta, I’ve been heating up a bit of the sauce, adding some milk, and throwing in the pasta.   It’s working pretty well.

Carmelized Onion Alfredo Sauce

  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (the lesser amount if you want a thinner sauce – or if you’re low on cheese!)
  • dash of lemon juice
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

for when you reheat and use the sauce [per serving of pasta]:

  • 1 serving of dried pasta (for shells, penne, etc., this is usually somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 cup of the dried pasta)
  • 2-3 TBSP milk

Dice onion – it can be cut into rough, large-ish chunks if you enjoy onions that large (I often do).

Melt butter in a large sautee or medium saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil.   Throw in the chopped onions and stir.   Add in the sugar – here’s where I admit that I just threw in two large-ish pinches of sugar, but I estimated that it was about 2-3 teaspoons.

Stir well and then let the onions brown for 5-8 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.   You can let it brown as much as you want and get heavily-caremlized onions, but I was too hungry for that.

Mince the garlic and add it in.   Stir, and then let cook with the onions for a minute or two.

Add in the cream, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and stir.   Bring to a nice little bubbly simmer and then add in the cheese – adding it bit by bit and stirring after each bit.

Let the sauce bubble, stirring regularly, for about three or four minutes, until it reduces a decent amount.   Let the sauce cool and then store in the fridge.

When you’re ready to have some pasta, cook a serving of pasta as you normally would, but taking it off the heat and draining it about a minute before you ordinarily would (so that it can cook the rest of the way in the sauce).  Leave the cooked pasta in the colander while you heat up the sauce.

Put a large spoonful of the alfredo sauce in the empty pasta pot and return to heat but turn the heat down to medium.   If the sauce has been refrigerated, let it melt for a little bit (less than a minute) before adding in the cooked pasta and the 2-3 TBSP milk.   Stir it all together and let it cook over medium heat until the sauce is all melted and has coated all of the pasta.

Remove the pasta from the pot and place in your serving bowl and let it sit for about two minutes so that the sauce will thicken.

If you’d rather make a whole batch at once, cook the pasta, drain, and add it to the whole batch of sauce along with about 1 cup of milk.   Stir and cook for a couple of minutes, then let sit for a couple of minutes before serving.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Emily permalink*
    July 10, 2011 9:27 am

    This was so delicious. Part of me wants to just grab a spoon and eat the leftover sauce without making another batch of pasta, but that probably wouldn’t be the healthiest thing in the world…

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