Unlike most of the dishes here, this scrumptious onion pasta recipe didn't actually come from my Mamma Marisa's kitchen. Instead it was inspired by a jacket potato recipe we found in a wonderfully simple cookbook called Three Good Things by British TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
For his spuddy sauce Hugh proposes a hearty combo of soft molten onions and crushed cooked chestnuts. But although we found this dish tasty enough, it still lacked a little something.
What was missing? That was tricky to pin down - maybe a different consistency? A few more onions?
Gradually we worked it out... (well my Italian better half did - she rocks like that.) She added white wine to the sauce - ramping up the taste - extra onions for even more slippery sweetness, and a deliciously chewy bacon option (in fact, both of us suggested this last one at the same time; that's how obvious it was to us).
Meanwhile I figured this winning mix could make a great sauce for short pasta; its crunchy little chunks of chestnut are just the right size to slot neatly inside pasta shapes liike orecchiette (little ear pasta) or conchiglie (little shells). Or rigatoni will work too if you can't find either.
So there we had it - a true joint creation: uniquely moreish onion,
chestnut and bacon pasta that I'm convinced you'll love.
Quick tip: this is one of those recipes that really lends itself to using a different pasta than normal, in terms of the flour the pasta is made from. So why not grab or make some nutrient-packed wholemeal pasta? Or, like we did for the pics below, try pasta made with spelt flour.
4 medium red onions
200g/7oz cooked peeled chestnuts (if you only find frozen that's fine)
200g/7oz orecchiette/conchiglie/rigatoni pasta
Half a glass of white wine
1 garlic clove
Extra virgin olive oil
Optional: 50g/1.75oz pancetta belly bacon chunks (or chop the thickest bacon you can find)
Step 1. Firstly, if your chestnuts are frozen, take them out of the freezer
to defrost a couple of hours before you cook.
Thereafter, the preparation for this dish is stupidly simple: just peeling and chopping.
- Peel, de-end and finely slice the onions.
- Then do the same to the garlic clove, only chop rather than slice this.
- Chop or crumble the chestnuts. Since they're pre-cooked this is easy.
Step 2. Warm through 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, on a medium heat hob.
- When hot (smoking is too hot - start again!), add the onions, the optional bacon chunks, and a dash of black pepper.
- Cover the pan if possible.
- Fry for 10-15 mins until the onions become soft and transparent.
- However... remove the lid 2 mins before the end of this time and pour in the white wine - this gives the wine 2 mins to evaporate, leaving just its taste in the sauce.
Step 3. With the onions soft and the optional bacon nicely softened and
browned, now add the garlic and chestnuts.
- Cook, stirring regularly, for another 3 or 4 minutes (until the chestnuts heat through).
Step 4. Now just cook up your pasta in a large pan of boiling, well salted water as per the packet's timings.
- Drain the pasta and mix through with the sauce.