5 Ingredients or Fewer

Diane Kochilas' Pasta With Yogurt & Caramelized Onions

November  5, 2013
20 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tyler M.
    Tyler M.
  • Joy Belamarich
    Joy Belamarich
  • Stephanie Nelson
    Stephanie Nelson
  • Rita Vazquez-Torres
    Rita Vazquez-Torres
  • Bonnie
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

91 Reviews

Kate March 27, 2022
I can't even recall when I first made this but loved it since then. How simple but really satisfying. I can't figure out how some don't like this unless they have some type of food aversion or texture issue that is getting in the way.
Yes, it can take a long time to caramelize onions but that's not unique to this recipe. You can always make caramelized onions in advance and save them for when you want or need them. Make a ton, freeze them, pull them out anytime.
Tonight I made it without thinning out my yogurt just because. So good, and tangy. I added garlic and getting that taste in there with the bites of onion was so good.
I've made it with different types of pasta and that's good as well,
Also, with toasted chopped walnuts mixed in on occasion.
I didn't add cheese tonight because the sweetness of the onions with the tangy yogurt and garlic flavor was just too good.
Give it a try. Yum
Tyler M. January 16, 2022
Delicious! I read all the reviews before making (but after buying all the ingredients) and was a bit nervous because there are some scathing criticisms of this recipe. But it's delicious. I did spend ~80 mins to properly caramelize the onions (which really make this dish). I use small pasta shells, added some peas (bc I love them), and added several turns of fresh pepper and ~2 tsp of aleppo pepper for a little extra heat. A crowd pleaser for sure.
Joy B. December 22, 2021
I make a 1 person version of this all the time. I caramelize the onions over high heat, so it takes 10-15 minutes (just keep stirring them). I also microplane in 1-2 cloves garlic at the end. Dump in the spaghetti at the end with pasta water, add a little butter, lots of parm, black pepper, and toss with fage 5% yogurt ( I eyeball it, maybe tablespoon and a half). Top with Aleppo pepper. I realize this is a major adaption of the recipe, but it makes it 1000% better. Trust!
EMet November 8, 2021
This recipe was terrible. It takes much, much longer to caramelize onions - in my case, close to an hour and 15 minutes. The yogurt was overpowering and there was way too much of it. I even splurged on sheep milk yogurt, as suggested by the “pro tip” in the book. Just overall disappointing and inedible.
Karen September 24, 2021
I thought this was terrible. The sour of the yogurt overwhelmed the dish. I really thought the onions would balance it, but it just enhanced the sour.
Stephanie N. March 11, 2021
Delish. Used 3 big onions. Kept deglazing pan with water throughout and cooked everything down for a LONG time. Added a little thyme and a teaspoon of sugar + some black pepper. Used Fage 5% for a treat (as she instructs in video). Very rich---5 generous servings. Great with a simple salad.
Rita V. February 3, 2021
I had forgotten how simple and wonderful this recipe is. Different, mixing up from our cacio e pepe!
ReggieDoobar October 21, 2020
I subbed English cucumber for the onion. Let me tell you, this was NOT the best pasta I've ever had. My girlfriend spit it into the sink and stormed out (snooty cow) and even the neighbor's dog didn't immediately eat it (had to add some ice cream on top to get the little wanker to finish it). Oh well.
Rosalind P. October 26, 2020
Nice takedown of recipe-changers who expect the same dish. LOL.
blackolive29 November 29, 2020
What did you expect?? You subbed cucumber for caramelized onions?? lol
Come on now....you wanted a salad!
blackolive29 November 29, 2020
Snooty cow???
Rosalind P. November 29, 2020
It was a joke.

Rita V. February 3, 2021
Wow. Go back to cooking 101. Your palate seems off...
Rosalind P. February 3, 2021
sorry to repeat, but it's worth it: lighten up. it was a joke. :-)
angel July 25, 2020
So I wasn't sure about this, being a yogurt sauce, but it was recommended to me, so I knew I had to try it.
And I'm so glad that I did!
My parents loved it! My pasta-hating sister finished her bowl!
The onions and cheese (I used pecorino romano in mine) on top of the pasta made such a wonderful flavour combination!
Amazing and simple!
Rosalind P. November 29, 2020
Agree that it was delicious. But I've never met a pasta-hating person. Perhaps she balances the world against my pasta addiction? :-)
don July 2, 2020
After reading some of the negative reviews, I was worried about how this would turn out, particularly since I subbed non-fat Greek for full fat. But it was still delicious. My only comment is I think the heat should be turned up just slightly above medium low or be prepared for a long time at your stove.
Matea May 17, 2020
WTAF just happened? This is the strangest and most disappointing thing I’ve ever made. I love all the components of this recipe individually but together, it is straight up weird and unpleasant. So sad I wasted yogurt, cheese, and caramelized onions on this. This recipe is offensive.
Bonnie April 7, 2020
I thought this recipe was amazing. I used Fage 5% yogurt and pecorino romano. I used the amount of yogurt called for and I thought it was perfect. Love, love, loved it. Will definitely make again. My onions took closer to an hour to caramelize, but we were in no hurry. Highly recommend.
redheadcanuck January 11, 2020
This took a long time to make and unlike the majority of the recipes I have made from this site/cookbook, was inedible. Made it exactly as directed and it was awful. Even worse, not one of the four of us in my house could eat it, so it all went into the compost. So disappointed as I was looking for a good meatless pasta that has protein. Ugh. Back to Marcella Hazan’s pasta with butter, onion and tomato. Save yourself the time and hassle, move on from this gloppy, sour, onion-dip flavoured disaster.
tastysweet January 12, 2020
I did make this. The onions took way longer than time allotted in recipe. However we thought it was really good. Even better the second day.
Rita V. December 4, 2019
I can't "review" yet... BUT I AM SO GOING TO MAKE THIS!!!!!!! I think I'd like some toasted walnuts on top... maybe. BUT I AM SO MAKING THIS!
tastysweet December 5, 2019
The toasted walnuts sound like a great idea. Have not made this yet. It’s just my husband and myself. Probably would half t recipe.
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