This caramelized onion rigatoni is served on top of a creamy, sage-infused whipped ricotta for a dreamy dinner everyone will love.
This lush pasta will be your new go-to. The caramelized onion sauce sticks to every piece of rigatoni, and the sage-whipped ricotta is so heavenly and rich. It’s a perfect autumnal pasta recipe.
How to make this caramelized onion rigatoni:
The beauty of this recipe is that you only need a few ingredients to achieve big, bold flavors.
What you need:
- Yellow onions: You can use any onion you like, but I love yellow or Vidalia onions. Red onions or shallots also work; just make sure to cut shallots into somewhat thicker rounds, as they have a tendency to dry out.
- Fennel bulb: If you don’t have fennel, you can throw in another onion to caramelize, or you can simply omit it. Adding a pinch of crushed fennel seeds to the caramelized onions is a great way to bring in that anise flavor.
- Pistachios: I combine crushed pistachios with crumbled, crispy sage leaves for a gorgeous nutty, aromatic topping.
- Fresh sage: Sage is used in a few ways. Half of it is minced and added to the sauce. Some of the leaves are fried and crumbled with the pistachios. The sage oil is folded into the whipped ricotta, and a few crispy leaves are served on top. I love finding so many ways to use one ingredient in a recipe!
- Rigatoni: I love tubular pasta like rigatoni or penne for this meal, but try it with a wide pasta like pappardelle or tagliatelle if you like.
- Ricotta cheese: You can use mascarpone instead of ricotta, but I love how airy ricotta becomes when whipped.
How to make it:
- Step 1: First, you’ll caramelize the onion and fennel. It takes time–about 30 minutes–to get onions that gorgeous browned, caramelized stage, so be patient!
- Step 2: As you caramelize the onions, crisp up half the sage in a bit of olive oil.
- Step 3: While you continue to caramelize the onions, cook the pasta.
- Step 4: Whip the ricotta with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth and creamy.
- Step 5: Mix the crushed pistachios with a few crumbled crispy sage leaves.
- Step 6: Finish it up! Melt butter into the caramelized onions, add minced sage, and toss it all together with the cooked pasta.
Serve it up by spooning the whipped ricotta onto plates. Pile the pasta on top and give each plate a dusting of crushed pistachios and sage. Finish with a crispy sage leaf on top.
Caramelized Onion Rigatoni
- Small pot
- Large pot
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced into half-moons
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced into wedges
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
- ½ cup raw pistachios, crushed
- .6 ounces sage leaves, divided
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 16 ounces rigatoni
- 12 ounces ricotta
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1-2 tablespoons whole milk, if needed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Caramelize the onion and fennel:
- Heat avocado oil in a wide pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and fennel and cook, stirring regularly, for 30-35 minutes until the onions and fennel deepen in color. Season with salt and pepper. You can add 1 teaspoon of sugar if you like them a bit sweeter.
Prepare the sage:
- Heat ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add half the sage leaves in batches, and cook for 2-3 seconds until crispy. Immediately transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Reserve the oil.
- Mince the remaining half of the sage and set aside.
Cook the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Reserve ¾ cup pasta water. Drain pasta.*
Make the whipped ricotta:
- Combine the ricotta with lemon juice and zest and season with salt. Using a hand mixer, blend until very smooth and creamy. If needed, add a splash or two of milk. Pour in half the reserved sage oil and continue blending until creamy. Set aside.
Finish the pistachios:
- Crush all but 4 of the crispy sage leaves and toss with the pistachios. Season with salt and set aside.
Finish the pasta:
- Melt the butter into the caramelized onions. Add the minced sage and cook for 1 minute. add ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and bring to a boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes until thickened and reduced slightly. If needed, add more water. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Turn off the heat.
- Divide the whipped ricotta between plates and add a touch more of the reserved sage oil on top. Pile the pasta on top and garnish with the pistachios. Place a crispy sage leaf on top. Enjoy!