Elegance of Onion Sauce

images-1One wouldn’t think that a pasta sauce made mostly of onions would be so elegant, beguiling, and comforting too, but it is. With an abundance of onions this evening, I made a version of a heartier sauce I’d seen on menus in Naples. Here is a recipe for four people.


4 medium yellow onions, peeled & sliced thin

1 stick butter

chicken or vegetable broth

3/4 C heavy cream

Tagliatelle or fettuccine pasta, about 1 lb

Salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, parsley


Saute the onions in the butter over low heat until soft but not brown. Covering the pan tightly, but stirring often helps to avoid  browning. Add enough broth to barely cover. Cook, covered, 15-20 minutes, again, watchful that the onions don’t brown. You don’t want brown. (Meanwhile, start heating salted water of pasta)  Add the cream to the onions. Puree the mixture. I used an immersion blender. The point is not to over-blend. You want some texture. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a bit of nutmeg (freshly grated if possible). Keep warm while the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta, Mix with warm sauce. Put in bowls, sprinkle on parsley. Pass the Parmesan. I added some pitted salt-cured black olives because I love them, but that does complicate the color theme of cream with a touch of green from the parsley.

For a rumination on cooking onions and the creative process, see my blog: “Onions & the Cost of Fiction.”

Pamela Schoenewaldt, historical novels of immigration and the search for self in new worlds: WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS, SWIMMING IN THE MOON, and UNDER THE SAME BLUE SKY (all HarperCollins).

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Sunday, May 6, 2pm reading from latest work at Hexagon Brewing Company, Knoxville, TN.

Thursday, May 10, 6-8 pm presentation on research on the historical novel, Blount County Library, Maryville, TN.

When We Were Strangers, Italian translation, to be presented in Pescasseroli, Italy, August 2018.

Recent Review
“Absorbing and layered with rich historical details, in Under the Same Blue Sky, Schoenewaldt weaves a tender and at times, heartbreaking story about German-Americans during World War I. With remarkable compassion, the author skillfully portrays conflicted loyalties, the search for belonging, the cruelty of war, and the resilience of the human spirit.”—Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel Dupree

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