May 4, 2009

Red Onion Pasta with Easy Seared Porkchop in Photos

Posted in Misc. Main Dishes, Pasta: stovetop tagged , , at 10:17 pm by jenniec00ks

So this is really Giada’s Spaghetti with Sauteed Onions and Marjoram, but I felt Red Onion Pasta was a much more descriptive name.  I think this is a particularly light and quick cooking dinner – perfect for any weeknight.  So let’s hop to it!

redonionpasta-001Really these five ingredients are all you need to make a delicious vegetarian dinner for two – and not even really all of them.

1.  1 red onion (~1lb) -I bought an organic red onion because it was also the smallest I could find at a little over 1 pound!

2. 8 oz. tub of reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese -you’ll only need half the tub of feta cheese, and you can get any kind that floats your boat (I’ve seen garlic/herb, tomato/basil, full or low-fat varieties) – I chose the cheapest in the store that day.

3. meyer lemon olive oil -I happen to have meyer lemon olive oil since splurged on it at Central Market, but you can easily use lemon zest and a delicious extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO).

4. vermicelli – thinner than spaghetti, fatter than angel hair, but you can use any kind of long pasta you want.  Vermicelli takes about 5 minutes in boiling water to be al dente.

5. fresh marjoram – you can sub in fresh oregano (they’re related).  I really wouldn’t skip out on the fresh herb this time though, it’s a pretty essential flavor since there are so few ingredients – plus I’ll have another recipe another tomorrow that uses up the marjoram and feta cheese.

Since I needed my protein, I added a seared boneless pork sirloin chop with some simple spices I had on hand: salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, and a few crushed red pepper flakes.  But that comes last. As usual, get the water on to boil for the pasta while you prep the lemon oil and slice the onion.  Zest a small lemon (or 1/2 a large one) and add it to ~2 tablespoons of EVOO.  When the water’s boiling, get the long pasta in and give it a swirl for ~30 seconds so that everyone gets submerged and no one sticks.


Then cut the top and bottom of the onion, cut it in half, and peel the outer papery layers away.  Here’s my onion chopping photo sequence, but you only need the first four photos.  Then I cut the onion in half and made thin slices (quarter-inch, ish?) while I heated up another couple tablespoons of EVOO in my usual saucepan over medium heat.


I know it looks like a lot of onion, but it’s really what beefs up the flavor of the dish.  After the pan’s been heating for 3-4 minutes, get all the onions in.  Give them a toss every few minutes so that the onions can really soften and begin to carmelize (they’ll be almost sweet with a light golden color).  This is how mine progressed:


I find this takes about 10 minutes.  If your pasta finishes while your onions are still cooking, drain them of most the water (keep a few tablespoons in to loosen the pasta later).  After your onions are soft, toss in the marjoram or oregano – I would say you need about 1.5 teaspoons chopped.


Stir in the fresh herbs for about a minute, the aroma in your kitchen should blossom right about now.  Here’s where you want to add some salt and pepper to your taste.  Then get about half of that feta cheese container into the pan along with the pasta and leftover starchy cooking water.  Turn the heat down to low and let the flavors mingle for a few minutes before killing the heat.

The Red Onion Pasta Finalé!

The Red Onion Pasta Finalé!

Get the pasta into a serving bowl & cover it with foil if you want to sear a porkchop or two to go with it.  Like I mentioned earlier, I took a 1″ thick boneless pork sirloin chop and cut in half as evenly as possible to make two 1/2″ thick porkchops.  Thinner porkchops will take less time to cook through – so you can get a nice sear on the outside while still fully cooking the cutlet.  I seasoned them with S&P, garlic powder, and dried thyme.  I added a little more oil to the pan over medium-high heat and added a few crushed red pepper flakes to spice up the oil a touch.  Then I put the cutlets in the pan side by side, 2-3 minutes on each side.  To get a nice sear, don’t touch the chops after you’ve put them in the pan, unless you’re ready to flip.  Flip only once, and then only budge them again to take them out the pan.  Technically they should be cooked to 160 degrees fahrenheit, but just make sure the juices run clear and there’s just a hint of pink when cut through.

Beautifully seared with just a touch of spice!

Beautifully seared with just a touch of spice!

My dinner - it could be yours too!

My dinner - it could be yours too!

Y’all enjoy now!