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Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions

James Ransom

Servings: 4 to 6

When cookbook author Diane Kochilas began dressing pasta with yogurt, her intention was to adapt a classic Greek island dish that required an obscure cheese called sitaka. But, in doing so, she created a dinner of convenience that’s striking enough to serve to company. The sauce has only two components: thick yogurt and starchy, salty pasta cooking water, which together create the soothing texture of an alfredo sauce, lightened up with yogurt’s tang. But it won’t taste austere, especially once you garnish with caramelized onions and Pecorino to balance out the sweetness and salt.

This recipe is excerpted from Food52 Genius Recipes. Read our review.


  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups coarsely chopped or sliced onions
  • Sea salt
  • 1 lb. tagliatelle or other fresh pasta
  • 2 cups thick, strained Greek-style yogurt (see note below)
  • 1 cup coarsely grated kefalotyri or Pecorino Romano cheese


  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently and seasoning with salt to taste as you go, until the onions are soft and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. As the water heats, add enough salt so that you can taste it. Add the pasta and cook until soft, just past al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Combine the yogurt with 1/4 cup cooking water and mix well. Add more of the reserved pasta water as needed to get the sauce to your desired thickness. Toss the pasta with the yogurt mixture. Serve the pasta immediately, sprinkled generously with cheese and topped with the caramelized onions and their juices.

There are endless ways you can fancy up this meal. Throw in spinach or chard as the pasta finishes boiling. Or blend the sauce with peas, mint, or tahini.


If not using thick, Greek yogurt, line a colander with cheesecloth and set over a bowl or in the sink. Add the yogurt and let drain for 2 hours before proceeding with the recipe. For a treat, seek out sheep’s milk yogurt for this.Reprinted with permission from Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore, copyright © 2015. Recipe courtesy of Diane Kochilas Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • MeredithK | 05/01/2020

    Excellent recipe as written. I can imagine adding peas or spinach or chicken for variety.

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