Diane Kochilas' Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions

By • November 5, 2013 48 Comments

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Author Notes: This secret just might change your life: you can, and should, dress pasta with Greek yogurt, especially if you also then top it with caramelized onions and grated pecorino. Adapted slightiy from The Glorious Foods of Greece (William Morrow Cookbooks, 2001).Genius Recipes

Serves 4 to 6

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound tagliatelle or other fresh pasta
  • 2 cups thick, strained Greek-style yogurt (see note)
  • 1 cup coarsely grated kefalotyri cheese, or pecorino Romano
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently and seasoning with salt to taste as you go, until the onions are soft and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. As the water heats, add enough salt so that you can taste it. Add the pasta and cook until soft, not al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Combine the yogurt with 1/4 cup cooking water and mix well. Add more of the reserved pasta water as needed to get the sauce to your thickness. Drain the pasta and toss with the yogurt mixture.
  3. Serve the pasta immediately, sprinkled generously with cheese and topped with caramelized onions and their juices.
  4. Note: If not using thick, Greek yogurt, line a colander with cheesecloth and set over a bowl or in the sink. Add the yogurt and let drain for 2 hours before proceeding with step 1. For a treat, seek out sheep's milk yogurt for this.
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Comments (48) Questions (0)

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3 months ago Dwayne Kutz

What a fantastic recipe. Thanks to Diane Kochilas. See you in Ikaria soon.

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3 months ago Hallie

This has become a favorite recipe when I'm down to a very bare-bones refrigerator. Loved adding preserved lemon to the caramelized onion — and a little zest to the yogurt itself.

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4 months ago Laura Coxson

I loved this pasta! Added some fresh basil for a bit of green. Fantastic!

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11 months ago PieceOfLayerCake

PieceofLayerCake is a trusted source on baking.

Don't listen to the comment below....they clearly have no experience with caramelizing onions and cannot be trusted. This recipe was delicious. Finely nuanced, sweet and nutty. Since there are so few ingredients, make sure they are of good quality, especially the yogurt and cheese. Also, make sure the onions are DEEPLY caramelized, but not dry. I take them an hour and half plus. Its simplicity at its finest!

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12 months ago vinaigrette

The onions took more than an hour but I remained optimistic nonetheless. After all was said and done … meh. Maybe with more cheese and herbs this could be a nice side dish but we all have so many recipes to try … and so little time. Put this one at the bottom of your list, perhaps for the first snow day when you can't get to the supermarket.

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5 months ago Manny Rodrigues III

I've made this several times and it's always been fantastic. Onions should only take about a half hour to carmelize. Make sure you use enough salt in the water in which you boil your pasta and use plenty of grated cheese. Give it another try and see how it turns out!

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5 months ago Manny Rodrigues III

Maybe I am caramelizing my onions the wrong way? Everyone else seems to take about an hour.

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about 1 year ago Lauren

Delicious! Made this with campanelli pasta and my favorite Cabot full-fat Greek yogurt. I only had parmesan cheese, so that's what I used. Will definitely make again. I bet this would be awesome with some roasted red grapes tossed in, too.

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about 1 year ago Jodibarnett

Yum! Just made this for dinner and it was deliscous. This will definitely make it into our rotation of weeknight dinners. I used Trader Joes lemon-pepper parpardelle pasta and added a toasted bread crumb gremolata topping. Like many other reviews I used 1 cup of yogurt instead of 2.

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over 1 year ago Rebeccaf

This was really good, but the onions took a lot longer to cook for me. Closer to an hour. I did cheat and use my food processor to chop. So they were a bit finer than recommended. But I would think that would make them cook faster. Other than that, I followed the directions to a T. Any suggestions?

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over 1 year ago Robyn Lawhorne Owsley

Wonderful if leeks are substituted instead of onions!

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over 1 year ago Erin Aguayo

this is very, very exciting. I've been making a pasta/yogurt/pea dish out of Ottolenghi's "Jerusalem," and it is possibly the tastiest food I've ever eaten, but it also uses every dish in the kitchen and requires a lot of fresh basil, making it seasonal. Can't wait to adapt yogurt sauce in a weeknight-friendly meal. Thanks!

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over 1 year ago Toni Washburn

We've made this several times the past couple of months and absolutely love it, the smell from the cooking onions is amazing. Great recipe!

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over 1 year ago Karin Ward

The onions are really key to this meal. They add a wonderfully sweet flavor.

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over 1 year ago Karin Ward

To Tasty sweet - about 12 smaller onions to get 6 cups.

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over 1 year ago Virginia Luppescu

Will Fat-free Greek yogurt work or are you better off with 2% or regular Greek yogurt?

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over 1 year ago Margit Van Schaick

Fatfree yogurt has all kinds of additives: do you really want to eat that?

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over 1 year ago amymills

This looks very similar to the pasta my French host family makes - only they use creme fraiche instead of yogurt (of course). Leftovers, cold, with the tangy cream clinging to the pasta, are the best.

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over 1 year ago Millie | Add A Little

I've never seen anything like this - it seems like it would make a delicious creamy sauce! My mouth is watering haha

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over 1 year ago Baywife

Should Greek yoghurt be strained, or is straining only necessary with non-Greek yoghurt?

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over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Thick, Greek-style yogurt is already strained, and will work well in this recipe as is. Thinner yogurts should be strained as described in step 4. Hope you love this recipe -- we do.

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over 1 year ago Kristy

A new staple in my house. It's a better, healthier version of carbonara! I only had 2% greek yoghurt which worked perfectly, also added chopped bacon for last 15 minutes of onions. Ended up using 1 cup yoghurt, 1 cup HEAVILY salted pasta water and have a husband who has asked for this again tonight!!

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over 1 year ago Abakkeful

Not my favorite. I added some chantrelles. Other than that followed the recipe. I think the yogurt needs to be toned down to, maybe, 1 - 1.5 cups for my taste buds.

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over 1 year ago durun99

I agree with this. I just made it again with one 7-ounce container of Fage and everyone in the family loved it this time.

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over 1 year ago twinjadojo

Good to hear. I just made this, with 9% fatted Greek yogurt, expecting swoons, and was utterly underwhelmed. Any bite that wasn't laden with pecorino and onions was just pasta in yogurt. I think I'll give it one more shot with 1c. Yogurt and lots more salty pasta water.

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over 1 year ago Rosa Lee Gibbons

I recently saw a taste that had Fage 2% plain yogurt at the top. The next time I bought yogurt I tried the Fage and, in my opinion, they were correct. It is delicious without the strong Greek yogurt taste. I now only use Fage when the yogurt is a prominent ingredient in a recipe. When it is not I am OK with using other good but less expensive yogurts.