This recipe used to be our go-to for entertaining vegetarians — back when vegetarians were, you know, a rare breed. Now, thankfully, the dish has moved into our regular dinner rotation. The hardest part about it is securing the sheep’s milk yogurt — but even that is not really hard because you can swap in with whole milk plain Greek yogurt and suffer very little for it — then it’s just a matter of remembering to cook more onions than you think feels right. The contrast between their caramel-ly sweetness and the tangy yogurt……I don’t want to get overly precious here, but: Oh. Boy.
[Photo updated October 2023]
Pasta with Yogurt, Spinach and Sweet Onions
Adapted only slightly from Diane Kochilas, The Glorious Foods of Greece. Note: Sheep’s milk yogurt is preferred here, but if you can’t find it, definitely don’t let it stop you. Swap in cow’s milk, plain, thick, full-fat Greek-style yogurt. It’s crucial to use full-fat to prevent curdling and breaking.
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large yellow onions sliced
salt and pepper
1 pound fettucini
1 1/2 cups thick, strained full-fat Greek-style plain yogurt or 2 6-ounce containers sheep’s-milk yogurt, drained through a coffee filter set in a strainer for at least 20 minutes
6 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup grated Parmesan
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown, 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot, adding spinach during the last 30 seconds. Strain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. In the same pot, whisk together the drained yogurt with the pasta water. Toss pasta with the yogurt mixture. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls. Sprinkle generously with cheese and top with onions, and a few grinds of pepper.