5 Ingredients or Fewer

Spaghetti Pasta with Charred Scallion Sauce

March 22, 2019
11 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

An extremely untraditional riff on the Italian aglio e olio. Instead of garlic, we’re using scallions. And we’re using a lot of them—three bunches to be exact. If you’re tempted to reduce the amount, well, don’t. Once you start treating scallions like a leafy green—from charring in a skillet to roasting on a sheet pan—it’s hard to stop. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 bunches scallions
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Add the water to a large saucepan and set on the stove over high heat to come to a boil. When it’s very hot, add the 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt (this will probably happen while you’re working on the scallion sauce).
  2. While the water is heating up, prep the scallions: Wash well and trim the hairy ends—but keep each bunch separate. Chop one bunch of scallions into large (roughly 1 ½–inch) pieces. Chop another into medium (about ½-inch) pieces. And mince the remaining bunch into oblivion (I like to do this by chopping each scallion as finely as possible, then running my knife through the pile a few times).
  3. Make the scallion sauce: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s very hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is shimmery, add the large-sized scallion pieces. Toss a few times and sprinkle with salt. Now don’t move the pieces for 3 minutes, until each begins to char.
  4. Add the medium-sized scallion pieces to the pan. Toss and season with another pinch of salt. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring once or twice, until soft.
  5. Add the minced scallions to the pan. Toss and season with another pinch of salt. Lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, then add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice, then cut the heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes, if you’re using them.
  6. Your water is probably boiling at this point. Add the spaghetti. After a moment, gently nudge it down with a wooden spoon as needed, until all the noodles are submerged. Boil for about 9 minutes or until just al dente.
  7. Right before the spaghetti is done, turn on the heat under the scallion sauce to the lowest setting. Use tongs to transfer the spaghetti to the pan with the scallions. Add ¼ cup pasta water and toss, toss, toss to form an emulsified sauce. Add more water if necessary (I usually add another 2 tablespoons). This should only take a minute or so—take care not to cook the pasta too long.
  8. Season with more salt to taste and sprinkle more red pepper flakes on top, if you want. Serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Melissa B.
    Melissa B.
  • Kim Hamilton
    Kim Hamilton
  • Pam Shropshire
    Pam Shropshire
  • Carrie K
    Carrie K
  • Courtney C
    Courtney C
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

15 Reviews

Norman February 2, 2021
Wow. This was so much more flavorful than expected! Really changed my view on scallions. This recipe's a keeper.
Gcbf December 22, 2020
I just made this, and found I had to cook the scallions a lot longer than it said for them to break down and cook out the sharp onion flavour. I also added a little lemon and some sweetener to break through the sharpness. In the end it’s yum, simple, and a good way to use up lots of scallions! Thanks!
LULULAND April 9, 2020
I made this tonight. We weren't all that happy with it. The green onions didn't char they ended up being slimy. Although the lemon did pick it up a bit. I would add some garlic also maybe some tomato.
Melissa B. February 20, 2020
I really wanted to like this recipe! My husband and I LOVE onion and scallion, and I often double or triple the onion in a recipe. We avoided the temptation to fiddle and followed the recipe to the letter, and it was pretty much inedible. I don't know if we had exceptionally strong scallions, or if we did something wrong, but the thiol level was way too high. I got heartburn within minutes and the baby refused to nurse that night (never happened before despite lots of alliums and capsaicin). Wanted to like this one! Not sure what went wrong.
witloof April 30, 2019
I made the full three bunches for one serving of pasta minus most of the extra oil} and it was delicious. Great, easy recipe.
Kim H. April 11, 2019
Loved this! I squeezed some lemon juice on at the end. As a vegan, I love finding yummy recipes that I can use for guests too.
Emma L. April 11, 2019
Yay! So happy to hear it.
Pam S. April 9, 2019
I have two rows of scallions left from overwintering in my garden and I'm needing the space to set out cabbage plants. This is the perfect way to use those up - can't wait to try this! I think I will add a squeeze of lemon at the very end.
btglenn March 31, 2019
What an awful overuse of salt as the main seasoning. Far exceeds recommended quantities in general and is a no-no for those with high blood pressure. There are many other seasonings to use for added flavoring - to begin with, add some chopped parsley and other greens along with the major ingredient, scallions. Add a pinch of thyme and oregano, dry cumin, and lemon juice for brightening.
Carrie K. March 31, 2019
The recipe instructs all 1-1/2 tablespoons of salt are for the pasta water. The onions are cooked with pinches here and there.
Carrie K. March 31, 2019
I made this last night. It's a great idea, and I will definitely make again--I love green onions! But the amount of oil is way too much for 8 ounces of pasta. Next time I'll use a bit of white wine to de-glaze the pan instead of an additional 1/4 cup of olive oil.
Courtney C. March 30, 2019
Really great and simple for a dinner party. Would love to try it with a peanut citrus sauce and maybe brown rice noodles or something as well. But amazing as is and crazy easy to prepare.
Sam March 30, 2019
Excellent recipe. Quick, simple, and flavorful. Made me look twice and nod to scallions.
FrugalCat March 26, 2019
This was really good! I made it with whole wheat rotini.
Emma L. March 26, 2019
Yay, thanks! Whole-wheat rotini is one of my favorite shapes :)