In this dish, you partially cook the pasta, then finish cooking it in the onion sauce in the skillet. The starch from the pasta thickens the sauce and gives it a nice creaminess. You will need a large skillet or even a Dutch oven to accommodate the pasta and sauce. I like this with spaghetti or linguine, but go with what you have on hand.
3 – 4 large onions
2 T olive oil
2 t ground fennel, or cumin, or caraway seeds, or dill seeds; or a combination
12 oz (roughly 3 c) pasta
1 1/2 c milk or similar substitute, plus extra if necessary
1 c crushed or coarsely chopped (canned) tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, for serving, optional (but good)
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt when it boils. Add pasta, return to the boil, and cook for just 5 minutes, or half the time specified on the pasta package.
2. . Meanwhile, peel onions, cut in half lengthwise and slice into thin strips. Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, and stir to coat with the oil. Add spice(s) or herb(s) and stir to incorporate. Sauté, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for about 10 minutes. You can add a splash of water if the onions seem to browning too quickly.
3. Add milk and tomatoes to onions. The milk will curdle but will emulsify when the pasta is added. Bring to a simmer and let simmer until pasta has cooked its required time.
4. Drain pasta after 5 minutes, reserving some cooking liquid, and add immediately to skillet. Stir and toss (tongs work well if using long strands of pasta) until well mixed with the onion sauce. Simmer the pasta in the sauce, stirring constantly until pasta is cooked to your preference (al dente) and the sauce is smooth. Splash in some of the pasta cooking water or more milk if the mixture is too dry. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with grated cheese sprinkled over, if you like.