Diane Kochilas' Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions

November 5, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

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 slightly 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
In This Recipe


  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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Reviews (65) Questions (0)

65 Reviews

GioFam March 7, 2018
Making this agaib - the kids are fans - and just compelled to appoint out that I'm nearly an hour in on caramelizing the onions and they are only medium beige...20-30 minutes is a joke. I'm sure I could *burn* my onions in that time, but not caramelize. There's even a well known article about this - http://www.slate.com/articles/life/scocca/2012/05/how_to_cook_onions_why_recipe_writers_lie_and_lie_about_how_long_they_take_to_caramelize_.html
Adriana T. February 26, 2018
This was absolutely delicious, and very easy. The caramelized onions make all the difference. I added some chopped garlic to the onions, and I sauteed some mushrooms for added color. Next time, I will probably add sun-dried tomatoes as well. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.
elisaung June 21, 2017
I agree with those who recommend cutting the yogurt down to 1-1.5 cups. Other than that, perfect.
Catherine March 25, 2017
Meh, wasn't a huge fan to be honest. But hey, it was food on the table from the things I had handy. I wouldn't make it again but I will eat the leftovers :). Same as some others, I had parmesan so I used that in place of the peccorino
jenniebgood February 26, 2017
Had some caramelized onions kicking around from a batch I made last weekend and made this with labneh tonight. SO easy when you make the onions ahead of time! Thanks for a great recipe!
Nanda D. December 27, 2016
Quite nice, and very easy! First time I had pecorino too, and it's a keeper :) Boyfriend didn't like it very much, but he's one of those that just wants a little pasta, loaded with a gallon of bolognese so it shouldn't have surprised me, haha
Katherine L. October 4, 2016
Just made this tonight after eyeing it for at least a year. Added some fried chickpeas on top. Delish!
Transcendancing March 19, 2016
This was easy and delicious - much moreso than I anticipated actually! I tried it experimentally but the household was really impressed and we'll definitely make it again.
Ann March 7, 2016
I am clearly in the minority here, but I didn't like this dish. Loved the carmelized onions with the pasta but the yogurt left a tangy aftertaste that didn't work for me. Wanted to love it but really did find the dish disappointing.
Beckey March 6, 2016
I like that this makes for a satisfying, non-meat option for dinner. I've made a version of this with the addition of lightly sautéed fresh corn, in season, and it is amazingly delicious (especially with a little crumpled bacon on top... ).
Diari March 1, 2016
Can non fat Greek yogurt be used?
Jara October 7, 2015
I am curious to try the yogurt as pasta sauce aspect of this recipe, but worried my kids won't like the strong taste of the caramelized onions. Does anyone have any alternatives to suggest to the onions?
Alexandra K. December 4, 2015
You could use roasted cherry tomatoes or another roasted veggie you know your kids like :)
Kari August 15, 2015
forgot to add...with 1/2 recipe used about 1/2 cup greek yogurt and maybe 1/3 cup pasta water.
Kari August 15, 2015
Made 1/2 recipe which fed five (but 3 were kiddos - one ate 3 helpings!) Was DELICIOUS!!!! As noted by others the onions take 45-60 min but that should be expected with the amount used and to get to very a caramelized state. I used sweet onion as the recipe did not specify. Very easy and delicious recipe.
Dwayne K. May 6, 2015
What a fantastic recipe. Thanks to Diane Kochilas. See you in Ikaria soon.
Hallie April 20, 2015
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. <br />
Laura C. March 30, 2015
I loved this pasta! Added some fresh basil for a bit of green. Fantastic!
PieceOfLayerCake September 13, 2014
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!
vinaigrette August 16, 2014
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.
Manny R. February 22, 2015
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!
Manny R. February 22, 2015
Maybe I am caramelizing my onions the wrong way? Everyone else seems to take about an hour.
Lauren May 28, 2014
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.
erin October 18, 2016
This is an old comment so perhaps you'll never see this, but I wondered if you could tell us more about the roasted red grapes? I've never seen them suggested for pasta (or indeed any dish I can think of) and I'd love to know how you prepare and use them. Thanks!
richbusywoman February 10, 2017
@Erin -- roasted sausage and red grapes is a classic ... search Ina Garten's version!