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An Onion Pasta for When You’re Short on Ingredients

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An Onion Pasta for When You’re Short on Ingredients


My kitchen is always out of something. Leafy greens, perhaps, or fresh fruit. Maybe oat milk. Possibly eggs. But there are some ingredients that, without fail, I have in stock, thanks to their gymnast-like flexibility and staunch resistance to rotting: dried pasta, white miso, onions, garlic, and an aged cheese like Parmesan. 

Lucky for me, that’s basically the entire ingredient list for this weeknight spaghetti

Developed by Zaynab Issa for our December 2022 issue, the dish “gives off major French onion soup vibes thanks to perfectly jammy onions.” Note how Issa writes jammy, not caramelized. The difference is key: You can achieve jammy after 10–14 minutes, barely enough time to win Wordle and catch up on dishes. 

Traditional French onion soup requires caramelizing onions, which takes at least twice that amount of time. Depending on who you ask—and what pan you use and how many onions you’re cooking—caramelization takes 30-something minutes to an hour-plus, with frequent check-ins along the way. This veers us off the Weeknight Friendly path, right into Big Project territory. 

But this onion pasta evokes that same slow-earned intensity—and it’s achievable on a Tuesday when I forget to think about dinner until I commute home. “Time was definitely the motivator,” Issa told me. “I love a quick pasta dish, so I really wanted to bring that deeply savory flavor in a fraction of the time.”

If you happen to have stock around, great. And if you don’t, that’s great too: I used water and, thanks to the miso’s umami and garlic’s attitude, the sauce lacked nothing. Likewise, chives are lovely, but if I don’t have any next time, I won’t hesitate to swap in dill or parsley or whatever greenery is around. 

Glossy and twirlable, the noodles are savory meets sweet, nourishing meets comforting. And the beauty of onions, even swiftly sizzled ones, is that they cook down so dramatically, you can tell yourself that you don’t need a vegetable side because there’s so much roughage in the sauce itself. Salad can wait until tomorrow.

Let’s Jam

Bowl of Jammy Onion and Miso Pasta on blue gingham tablecloth with glass of white wine.

Inspired by French onion soup, this pasta is deeply savory, relying on umami-rich miso to deliver flavor fast.

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