Caramelized Onion Pasta with Edamame and Mint: Radically Simple

Carmelized Onion Pasta~ A Stack of Dishes

If you know me at all you know that I am a real cookbook hound. I might be able to trace the start back to when I was a kid during a birthday pool party. I probably was about 9, and in those days we played games. The winners of each game got to pick a grab bag gift. My pull that day was a copy of Fanny Farmer’s cookbook.

You would think that a book given to a chlorine soaked little girl on a glorious summer afternoon would have been a buzz kill. Instead I turned the book over and over in sheer delight and amazement. I never had my own cookbook before- and don’t you know I sat right down poolside and started to thumb through it. There were recipes for cookies and candies and other treats. The potential in those pages astounded me- even as a young girl.

To me cookbooks are treasure chests. They should be delved into and perused. I am also quite sure that I am not alone in partaking in the joy of reading a cookbook like a novel. Weekly the pile by my bedside grows taller and more rickety until I gather them all into my arms and return them to the shelves like errant children. Some sneak it back on a regular basis, such as the book that this recipe came from: Radically Simple by Rozanne Gold.

Radically Simple Cookbook ~A Stack of Dishes

Rozanne and I share some mutual friends, and I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with her a few times over the years. Rozanne is a beautiful tall woman who commands herself with simple elegance and grace- very much like her recipes. She’s a four time James Beard Award winner, and recipient of the Julia Child/IACP award. At 23 she was chef to Mayor Ed Koch, and was executive chef to Lord & Taylor, Baum + Whiteman, The Rainbow Room, Windows on the World and Hudson River Club. Rozanne has written for countless periodicals, and is the author of 13 cookbooks. Her books include the acclaimed 1-2-3 series, which was the impetus for the minimalist column in the NY Times. However, one of the most endearing facts about Rozanne is that she purchased the defunct Gourmet Magazine’s 3500 cookbook library and donated it to New York University in honor of her mother- who encouraged her to be a chef at a time when it was unheard of for a woman to hold such positions in professional kitchens.

Her recipes in Radically Simple really speak to me in that they are elegant without a lot of fuss. Using a few ingredients with the right balance and well executed cooking techniques, she makes it possible for the home cook to come off like a pro. I also highly recommend giving this book to the young cook who is looking to entertain with ease and success.

I will also share with you that when I last moved it was one of three cookbooks that I kept from the boxes and used regularly during those first days in my new place. It’s a very user friendly and inspiring book- it’s the type of cookbook you’ll want to keep by your side.

Caramelized Onion Pasta~ A Stack of Dishes

With Rozanne’a permission I have recreated one of her recipes here. In place of peas I used edamame which I had on hand, and had to opt for spaghetti as my choice of pasta. Neither were a detriment to the recipe.

This dish is a gorgeous balance of the earthy umami taste of caramelized onions with the round acidity of white balsamic vinegar. The mint gives it an herbaceous high note to finish it off. Add this to  your list of meatless meals.

Caramelized Onion Pasta with Edamame and Mint
A hearty earthy pasta dish, great for any meatless meal.
182 calories
14 g
0 g
13 g
4 g
2 g
158 g
247 g
6 g
0 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 182
Calories from Fat 116
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 247mg
Total Carbohydrates 14g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 6g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 4 large yellow onions, about 1 1/2 pounds
  2. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 12 ounces spaghetti- or other past of choice
  4. 1 cup frozen edamame (or peas)
  5. 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  6. 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  7. 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  8. 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigianno-Reggiano- plus extra for shaving
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cut the onions in half through the roots. With cut side down, slice longwise (not semi-circles).
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onion and cook while stirring until dark brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until tender, about 10 minutes- adding the edamame halfway through. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  5. Add the vinegar and fish sauce to the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the drained pasta and peas, cooking water, mint and grated cheese. Cook stirring for 2 minutes until heated through.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Divide evenly between 6 bowls and garnish with shaved cheese on top.
Adapted from Radically Simple
Adapted from Radically Simple
A Stack of Dishes

Fregola with Arugula Pesto



Looking for some inspiration for your lunch box or picnic basket? This fregola with arugula pesto comes together in a jiffy. I think you’ll find  that the peppery taste of arugula, with a spark of lemon, is a refreshing change from your usual pesto and pasta.

Fregola is a lesser known pasta, it’s extremely similar to Israeli cous cous, so feel free to interchange if that’s all you can find. The round beads of pasta are delightfully comforting on the tongue. It’s very easy to get addicted to these pearls of goodness.

Arugula has always felt more to me like an herb than a lettuce green. I find myself tossing the tender leaves into a bowl of hot pasta the way one would with basil leaves. They delicately wilt into the dish and add a bright bite that I really enjoy. These days arugula is easy to find, especially the baby arugula leaves, unlike basil that tends to come and go. Far less of a hit on the wallet too- and I find it more versatile. It always pains me when I purchase a fragrant bunch of basil only to have it wither in the fridge.

[Read more…]

A Simple Supper: Wheat Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms

I sit in the morning light of the day after hearts and flowers day, thinking about love. It tickled me to no end yesterday to see fellow passengers on the subway bearing red boxes, heart shaped balloons, bouquets of flowers and enticing parcels obviously bearing chocolates. What a life affirming thing to see love in action, and the outpouring of it.

I imagined the stories that went along with all those sweet gestures, and more than once I stopped myself during the hustle of my day to think: I wonder if anyone is getting engaged right now? Hearing “I Love You” for the first time? Is someone at this moment experiencing that warm heart coddled feeling of love, safety and belonging that is so delicious?

I believe in love. I believe in the mystical and magical thrill of it all, and I believe in divinity in the most sublime sense. I also believe, and know, that I am so fortunate and blessed to be so loved and to have the ability to love so defenselessly in return. No matter what transpires, or how much time goes by, that feeling never grows old for me.

I read somewhere recently that cooking is the ongoing love note that gets written at every meal. I know this to be true for myself. Affection and caring is sprinkled into the pot of every dish I prepare. Though not everything I make is a grand gesture or ultimate expression,  every plate bears a small offering of love and nourishment that my heart and my hands have created for you. And when you lift the bites to your lips, and I can see that you seem to like it (maybe even just a little), it touches my heart right back.

I remember a story from years ago when I was working with a bride on choosing her wedding cake. She started explaining to me in exasperation that she was frustrated with her caterer, a friend of mine,  and that they were butting heads. They were pushing and pulling on a senseless issue, and I could clearly see what was happening. Finally I took her hand and leaned toward her and said, “Allow her cook for you. She wants to indulge you and delight you. Let that flow out of her and resist trying to reign her in. You’ll get what you want ten-fold, I promise.” After looking back at me with blinking eyes she understood and relaxed. And indeed, it came to pass to be the truth. They had an abundant and delightful wedding, and the food was filled with joy.

Like I said earlier, not every meal I create is a masterpiece, nor do the angel’s voices rise with the steam from the plate, but I can assure you, there is always a hum in my heart- there to be shared with you.

Wheat Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms
This dish is an example of how a few simple ingredients are greater than the sum of their parts. The spicy sausage is a lovely foil to the earthy mushrooms and the pungent cheese, and the texture of slippery noodles and toothsome chunks of meat and mushrooms is lovely.  I used some pasta water to make a slick sauce, which pulls all the flavors together without a need for added fats. I used Barilla Plus (w protein), it’s a good whole wheat pasta that has great texture.
Serves 6
1# Whole wheat spaghetti, dried
1t salt for boiling water
6 links of best quality chicken sausage
2 cloves garlic
1 small, or half a medium yellow onion
1# cremini mushrooms
2 medium sized leeks, white and tender green parts, washed
1c grated Parmigiana Reggiano 
12 thin slices Parmigiana Reggiano to serve (optional)
S&P to taste
In a large pot add 8 c water and 1t of salt and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and return to the boil.
Continue to cook for approximately 8 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked but still retains a toothsome bite.
If planning to serve in a large bowl, place the colander over the serving bowl in the sink and drain the pasta, allowing the water to catch into the bowl. This will warm the bowl, and allow you to easily retrieve the pasta water easily. Alternatively, reserve 2 cups of the starchy pasta water, and drain the rest, reserving the pasta in the colander.
While the water is coming to temperature, and the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the sausage from their casings and add to the pan, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon as they cook. I like to keep some good size chunks, so no need to break it down to a mince.
While the sausage is cooking, mince the garlic, slice mushrooms, dice the onion and slice the leeks.
When the sausage is just cooked and lightly browned, remove it from the pan and reserve on the side.
If there is a lot of grease in the pan you may remove some at this point. Otherwise, return the skillet to the heat and add the garlic and onions and allow them to slowly cook. When they are about halfway done add the mushrooms and the leeks.
Saute the vegetables until they are wilted and the mushrooms still have some structure.
Add the water to the pan and turn the heat up higher and bring to the boil.
Cook the sauce until some of the water evaporates and the sauce thickens. Add the sausage and cook for a minute to heat through. 
Then add the pasta directly into the pan (or into your serving bowl, now drained of hot water) along with the grated cheese and gently toss to coat.
Divide evenly into six plates and serve with 2 slices of cheese.