I’ve yet to travel to France in person, but I’ve made countless visits vicariously through Ina Garten and Julia Child…
Kidding aside, both Ina and Julia really inspire me. Talk about ladies who know how to live fabulously. My apartment is too small for a television, but I watched my share of the Barefoot Contessa when I was younger. It is by far the best show on the Food Network. Filmed in her gorgeous Hamptons estate, Ina tries to play it casual. She always has this sheepish smile on her face as she lets her audience in on her “secret” of adding espresso powder to chocolate, while insisting that one never cook with a wine one wouldn’t drink.
I hear you Ina, but I also hear my debit card whimper at the thought of pouring a full cup of expensive chardonnay into a pan of shrimp scampi when my palette isn’t refined enough to know the difference from white wine sold in a juice box.
I think the best part of the Barefoot Contessa is always the end, when she feeds Jeffrey. He is always so damn content. I think she could put a frozen burrito in front of him and he’d be just as happy to eat that as a filet mignon with truffled demi-glace.
As Julia Child famously said, “people who like to eat are always the best people.” It’s just so true.
Other than their lavish yet somehow still simple lifestyles, my real admiration of Ina and Julia is for the initiative, resourcefulness, and persistence they both have. Both women spent their young adult years (re: the “really important years that matter most, so don’t waste them!”) working good jobs that sustained but didn’t necessarily fulfill them. They took to cooking much later in life, fully dedicating themselves to the art and pursuit of learning at a stage most people consider to be “too late.” Julia revolutionized what it meant to be a home cook. Ina has made quite an enterprise out of herself, and if nothing else is incredibly entertaining- at least to me. (Follow her on Instagram, LOL.) Both women created beautiful lives out of doing what they loved. I’ll raise a glass of “really good wine” to that.
If you’ve even heard of Julia or Ina, you know they’ve both spent a great deal of time in France and follow the French school of cooking. In one of her memoirs, Julia recalls how while she was studying at Le Cordon Bleu, nearly every day she would come home from class and make a “soup du jour.” I think I go over the top with the time I spend cooking, but she would spend entire weekends creating the perfect beef stock for a soup or stew. As in tending to the same pot over the course of thirty-six hours.
Quite the contrast is this one-pot twist on the French classic made in 30 minutes I have for you here. As much as I like French onion soup, I love pasta. If I go out to dinner at a nice restaurant, the pasta dish is what I order. Always. So I thought, deep, sweet caramelized onions and nutty melted cheese could only be made better when transformed from soup to pasta.
After making and eating this and being bummed at the absence of leftovers… I’ll say I was not disappointed!
This One-Pot French Onion Pasta could not be simpler! With only seven ingredients and a bit of water, as the title says, it comes together in a single pot. Well… technically. If you use a dutch oven then it’s just one pot, but if not you’ll transfer the pasta to a casserole dish before putting it under the broiler.
This definitely qualifies as an easy weeknight dinner, but it would also make a great Valentine’s Day meal. Which is a week and a half away. I’ll probably say it many times between now and then, but I adore Valentine’s Day. It’s easily my second favorite holiday. I have lots of recipes I plan to share next week for the occasion! In the meantime, these would be a good start for dessert!
And so would this One-Pot French Onion Pasta. Because nothing says “I love you” like caramelized onions…? I guess if you met Bae at a county fair or something. Whatever. It’s French, it’s fancy, and it looks and tastes like you spent considerable time preparing it, when really it comes together in the time it takes to drink the remainder of that “good red wine” I trust you’ll use.
I like to think this One-Pot French Onion Pasta would earn a nod of approval from Ina and Julia. But if not, I know Jeffrey would definitely like it, and that’s good enough for me.
One-Pot French Onion Pasta
Yields 3-4 servings
The classic soup of rich broth, caramelized onions, and bubbly cheese, transformed into an easy and comforting pasta prepared in a single pot.
- 1 Tbs. butter
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup (2.66oz) good red wine
- 2 1/2 cups (20oz)
- 3/4-1 cup (6-8oz) water
- 8 oz. ziti or penne uncooked*
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup (4oz) Comté, Gruyère, or Swiss cheese, shredded
Heat a heavy bottomed stock pot of dutch oven over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium low and cover the pot. Allow the onions to soften and caramelize for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a splash of broth towards the end if start to stick.
Add the wine to the onions. Raise the heat to medium and allow the wine to cook down slightly, but not so long that it evaporates. Pour in the chicken broth and 3/4 cup of water. Add the pasta and sprig of thyme and stir to mix. Season with a bit more salt and pepper, to taste.
Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat so the pasta is just simmering. The trick to one-pot pastas is ensuring the temperature is just right so that the liquid does not cook off before the noodles cook through. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Stir one or two times while cooking, as you may find an additional 1/4 cup of water is needed. For this dish, you don’t want the liquid to be totally absorbed. Leaving it a little bit soupy is ideal, since it will finish under the broiler.
Turn off the heat and remove the thyme sprig. I like to leave a few leaves behind in the pasta, but do make sure you take out the twig!
If using a stock pot, transfer the pasta to a lightly greased casserole dish, pie plate, or skillet. If using a dutch oven, no extra dish for you!
Scatter the cheese atop the pasta. Feel free to use more or less than I’ve specified! Broil the dish on high for 1-2 minutes, until fully melted and lightly browned on top. Let it sit for 5 minutes, garnish with a little extra thyme or parsley, and serve.
*For anyone wondering, I used Trader Joe’s brown rice penne (which is really closer to ziti) because I am obsessed. So yes, you can successfully make this recipe gluten free! Other than ziti or penne, you may use any short-cut pasta like elbows or tubetti. I wouldn’t use a long noodle like spaghetti or linguine in this recipe.