Pasta with Yogurt, Spinach, and Sweet Onions


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. And then make more of them. I’m telling you, you’re gonna want a lot of those onions. 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, plus more for drizzling
4-5 large yellow onions sliced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fettuccini
12 ounces plain sheep’s milk yogurt (such as Old Chatham Creamery brand, make sure it’s plain) or 1 1/2 cups thick, strained full-fat Greek-style plain yogurt
6 ounces fresh spinach (optional)
1 cup grated pecorino or Parm

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. It will seem like a lot of onions, but they will cook down significantly don’t worry. 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 of salted water, adding spinach (if using) during the last 30 seconds. Strain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. (<<IMPORTANT!) Toss a little olive oil into the pasta to prevent sticking. In the same pasta 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 Pecorino and top with onions, and some meaningful grinds of pepper.

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After Words

Made this for dinner tonight, and it is outrageously delicious. You know who really loves it? My 3 year old. Who’d have thunk?

Tea Time

This looks great, i want to make it. Could you tell me, the sheep’s milk yogurt ‘container’, what size please? Thanks.


Tea Time: two of the 6-ounce containers! Should probably say that in the recipe. Hope you like it….

Tea Time

My you’re quick, thank you! Gonna look for a 6 oz. container of that tangy dairy stuff next time i hit Whole Foods or an ethnic grocery shop. And then cry my eyes out while slicing all those onions.

Portia M.

I made this recipe day before yesterday. It was spectacular! That night my husband cruised into the kitchen from work, grabbed a fork and ate a mouthful right out the pot. He stopped in his tracks and came back and loaded up his plate. Success! I couldn’t find the sheep’s milk yogurt even at WF (might be too exotic for NC where I live) I used goat’s milk yogurt and it was still great. Also, while I used yellow onions, I think I’ll use vidalias next time which are a bit sweeter. Or am I imagining the difference between these onions? I also want to add a bit more spinach as I felt like we needed more green. Love your site and I look forward to each new post.


I came to this recipe after trying your pasta with caramelized onions and parmesan. I liked that recipe, but my husband wanted something with a little more sauce. So, I wound up making a combination of the two, with a twist. One part of the twist was adding bacon. The other part of the twist came out of necessity – I am living in Mexico City, Mexico and finding the yogurt is impossible. So I used Mexican ‘crema’ which is luscious and tangy and very different from yogurt or American sour cream. It turned out great – my husband loved it, as did our customers. Thanks for the inspiration to a great new addition to our menu!


This recipe is enticing me … Would you approve substituting tuscan kale for the spinach? I would cook it longer, of course. Anyway there’s a bunch of kale in our fridge which I’d love to use with pasta tonight. By the way, just discovered your website and love it. Am returning to work in September, and you’re encouraging me that I can manage work, marriage, and motherhood without sacrificing good, healthy, accessible dinners. Thank you!


I made this just then and substituted sheep’s milk yogurt with greek, because we had it in the fridge already – delicious! I was a massive onion sceptic as a kid, which drove my parents mad (I would find tiny chopped bits and pick them out of chunky bolognaise) I’m quite looking forward to telling my mother I just ate an onion and a half on my dinner.


I’ve just come accross this recipe and it sounds delicious. I find it difficult to get sheep’s milk yogurt but have got goat’s milk yogurt. Would that work okay? Would I still need to strain it? I might also add pine nuts…..




Just made this today and put it on pan crisped chickpeas and served with English muffins (gotta go with what you can get these days, now more than ever). It was every bit as good as I hoped for. Also, regular yogurt with just a little bit of feta cheese sprinkled on top. Total win.


Just made this tonight. Found the sheep’s milk yogurt at Whole Foods (in NC, so we must be evolving!). Made it with butter for my kids, but with the yogurt for my husband and me. Insanely delicious for how simple the ingredients are. Next time, will make it with the yogurt for the kids, too, and twice the amount of spinach. Just delicious. Highly recommend.