Caramelized Shallot Pasta Recipe (2024)

By Alison Roman

Caramelized Shallot Pasta Recipe (1)

Total Time
40 minutes
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This pasta is all about the shallots, cooked down in a bath of olive oil to a jammy, caramelized paste. Tomato paste is there for tanginess, and anchovies for saltiness, but they serve more as background flavors to the sweetness of the shallot. This recipe makes enough caramelized shallot mixture for a double batch of pasta, or simply keep it refrigerated to spoon over fried eggs, or to serve underneath crispy chicken thighs or over roasted root vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes.

Featured in: The Tomato-y, Shallot-y Pasta You Didn’t Know You Wanted

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Yield:4 servings

  • ¼cup olive oil
  • 6large shallots, very thinly sliced
  • 5garlic cloves, 4 thinly sliced, 1 finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1(2-ounce) can anchovy fillets (about 12), drained
  • 1(4.5-ounce) tube or (6-ounce) can of tomato paste (about ½ to ¾ cup)
  • 10ounces pasta
  • 1cup parsley, leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

546 calories; 16 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 11 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 84 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams dietary fiber; 17 grams sugars; 19 grams protein; 874 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Caramelized Shallot Pasta Recipe (2)


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  1. Step


    Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium high. Add shallots and thinly sliced garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots have become totally softened and caramelized with golden-brown fried edges, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Step


    Add red-pepper flakes and anchovies. (No need to chop the anchovies; they will dissolve on their own.) Stir to melt the anchovies into the shallots, about 2 minutes.

  3. Step


    Add tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent any scorching, until the tomato paste has started to cook in the oil a bit, caramelizing at the edges and going from bright red to a deeper brick red color, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer about half the mixture to a resealable container, leaving the rest behind. (These are your leftovers to be used elsewhere: in another batch of pasta or smeared onto roasted vegetables, spooned over fried eggs or spread underneath crispy chicken thighs.)

  4. Step


    To serve, cook pasta according to package instructions in a large pot of salted boiling water until very al dente (perhaps more al dente than usual). Transfer to Dutch oven with remaining shallot mixture (or a skillet if you are using the leftover portion) and 1 cup pasta water. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the skillet to coat each piece of pasta, using a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any bits on the bottom, until pasta is thick and sauce has reduced and is sticky, but not saucy, 3 to 5 minutes.

  5. Step


    In a small bowl, combine parsley and finely chopped garlic clove, and season with flaky salt and pepper. Divide pasta among bowls, or transfer to one large serving bowl, and top with parsley mixture and a bit more red-pepper flakes, if you like.



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Cooking Notes

Bob Rosen

I'm surprised at the medium-high heat recommended for caramelizing the shallots.In my experience, shallots are much more sensitive to cooking temperature than onions — and are prone to burn if cooked too quickly.I'd suggest turning the heat down just as soon as the shallots have begun to sizzle a bit — otherwise they'll be burned well before they've fully caramelized.

Allan Rivlin

You could replace anchovies with a kalamata olive tapenade and/or reconstitute some sun-dried tomatoes in water and fine chop.


As one of the Instagram messengers who asked for this — with zero expectation —thank you times a million! For those asking for an anchovy substitute, that’s kinda like reading a recipe for olive oil cake and then asking what can be used instead. I’d try with a smaller amount Of anchovies — even just 1 or 2 — and work your way up. Cooked like this they somehow both disappear into subtlety while exploding with savoriness. I used to think I hated anchovies, but I don’t anymore thanks to Alison.


Any suggestions for an anchovie substitute?

Bonnie Tawse

On Instagram earlier today, Alison Roman said (in so many words) this dish is all about the anchovies so do not ask about an anchovy substitute, just make a different pasta dish.


The things you learn...Preparing this tonight. Local market had choice of Hunts Tomato Paste and Hunts No-Salt-Added Tomato Paste. With salt from the anchovies and that used in caramelization, wanted to be careful with additional salt. Bought both and decided I'd figure it out later.Back home, I checked ingredients and nutritional values. Want to know the difference between the two? The labeling! Nothing else. Otherwise identical. It's just marketing.Who'd a thunk it? Caveat emptor


Umeboshi paste (made from Japanese fermented plums) is a terrific vegan substitute for anchovies.


Serious Eats says 1 Large Shallot = 1/2 cup minced or sliced. 1 Medium Shallots = 1/4 cup minced or sliced. 1 Small Shallots = 2 tablespoons minced


i want to know how anyone can cook thinly sliced garlic, over medium heat, for 15-20 minutes without them burning to a bitter mess. no, i don't think so. i would add them maybe 5 minutes before the end of the cooking process. this is like recipes that say to cook onions until caramelized.. 10 -15 minutes. in your dreams, plan 30 - 45 or more minutes for that.


So can anybody who has had success with recipe tell me about how much in grams or ounces you need for the shallots. Large means nothing to me.It is a shame that people who write recipes like this for mass consumption can not be more specific on the amounts of ingredients.


ATK's taste test had King Oscar (tin) as the favorite brand, with Ortiz in the glass jar in 2nd. Ortiz is about $13, King Oscar less than $3.


Help! Is one shallot the whole bulb or just one of the “cloves” inside?


This was insanely good. Completely addictive, just kept wanting to go back for more long after I was full. Made it exactly according to the recipe, used spaghetti. I always thought I didn’t like anchovies until I started using NYT cooking.

Prakash Nadkarni

Anchovies are a concentrated umami source. The closest substitute is fish sauce, as Andrew points out: see Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking". The Romans' fish sauce was called Garum: after it went out of fashion, anchovies replaced it - both are fermented fish products. If you're vegan, use fermented soybean paste or miso, which are more intense than soy sauce. (Olives and capers are nice, but lack umami, which is due to savory amino acids, primarily glutamate, from a protein source.)


Anchovies cooked taste almost nothing like anchovies out of the can. If you are worried about it, reduce the quantity. If you want to eliminate them completely, it won't taste the same. Be brave!


Used all of the sauce in whatever amount of pasta that I thought might be 10 oz. I am not an anchovy eater but this did not taste like anchovies at all. It was really good and coated the pasta in a lovely way that reminded my son of Persian spaghetti. I did add a little sprinkle of sugar to cut the acidic edge from the tomato paste. I did not take the leap of faith to the parsley/raw garlic topping and have no regrets.


i know alison has posted about how there’s no sub for anchovy but i’ve made this with anchovy and with 1.5 tbsp doenjang & they’re both great. in fact i prefer the doenjang version so go nuts vegans


Is anyone out there using 10 oz of pasta instead of the whole box?


Has anyone used onions rather than shallots? Shallots can be hard to find, are often not fresh in my supermarket and are expensive. Rather than going to multiple stores looking for six plump shallots, it would be great to simply use three onions.

Cooked 2/13

6oz can too much paste, I’d do halfGet anchovies


We are anchovy lovers - used two tins first time with this recipe. Did three tonight and it was perhaps too far. Overpowered the other flavors. I used the olive oil from the tins upfront and stand by that. Was using a stainless steel pan, deglazed with vodka ahead of the paste - not sure if necessary but it came out great. Excellent recipe!


So, I've made this a couple times now. The first time, I was underwhelmed. The second time, I enjoyed it a lot more. I'm sure the third time I will like it even more. The secret is to add MORE pasta water. Diluting the paste really helps the overall flavor, otherwise it will be too achovy-y or too tomato paste-y acidic-y. Add at least 1 cup of pasta water, maybe more, and it's great. Next time I will add fresh tomato for additional sweetness to balance everything out.


Delicious!! Bucatini a must. Cooked shallots on medium and added garlic towards the end. Caramelized perfectly in 15-20. Read a review and added a little lemon zest. Good add but not necessary. Served with a light green salad.

Mandy P

This was so good. I will make it probably 1000 more times.


I’m really extra, I added sardine and capers.


Used a whole tube of anchovies rather than tinned, about 2 tsp cracked red pepper. Otherwise held to recipe exactly, except I put a lot of Parm on top because I like my wets dusted. Insanely good.


So i’m confused about the serving step. Am I cooking the pasta in a dutch oven with the tomato paste or a skillet?


I just couldn’t get this to work. It wasn’t about the anchovies. It was cooking it. It kind of turned into this huge clump of tomato paste. I clicked the link in the description and mine didn’t look like hers. I followed the recipe. Didn’t change anything (there’s not much to change). The only thing I noticed was that my Dutch oven was slightly smaller than hers. Idk. My tomato paste was scrotching I think. Tried adding more oil but that just made it oily.


Allison makes too big a deal of peeling those shallots in the video—this dish is pretty effortless. I don’t really know what constitutes a large shallot, so I typically use 8-10; it’s not an exact science. I definitely caramelize them on medium though, in a skillet. I usually cook my spaghetti for 7 minutes before swirling it with the shallot ragu and the pasta water. For those of you who salt your pasta water á la Samin Nosrat, hold back; you’re halfway to the sea with the anchovies!


Can’t go wrong with extra shallots in this, you’ll have more leftovers! Would recommend less than 1c of pasta water, you really just need enough to get the sauce all over your pasta.

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Caramelized Shallot Pasta Recipe (2024)


How long do caramelized shallots last in the fridge? ›

And just like that, a sweet yet savory, sticky, and delicious little low carb treat to add to your pantry. I like to make a batch of these caramelized shallots and store them in a jar in the fridge, they keep for weeks!

How long does shallot paste last? ›

The caramelized shallot paste is perfect to make ahead, as you can store it in a jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a month. You can also combine the paste with the pasta and divide the finished recipe into meal prep containers.

How do you use extra shallots? ›

Adding raw shallots to salads, using them minced in salad dressing, pickling them, caramelizing them, frying them, roasting them on their own or with other vegetables and using them in béarnaise sauce (one of their main claims to fame) are just a few ways to use these versatile vegetables.

What is one shallot? ›

As for shallots in particular, it's difficult to tell whether one shallot is going to split into one, two, three, or even four cloves when you peel it, so when our recipes call for "one medium shallot," it's referring to the entire thing, no matter how many cloves it splits into.

Can I freeze caramelized shallots? ›

If you're going to spend an hour or so making caramelized onions, you might as well make a lot of them! Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, they'll keep for a week. You can also freeze them for up to two months. I like to freeze caramelized onions in ice cube trays.

When should you throw away shallots? ›

Kept in a cool, dark, and dry place (i.e., not in the fridge, where moisture lives), shallots will stay good for weeks. If they develop soft spots or start sprouting, the shallots should be discarded.

What do shallots look like when they go bad? ›

When fresh, shallots should be firm and not have any soft spots. If you notice any mushy spots on the shallot or notice the shallot feels extremely light, it may signify that the shallot has started to dry out and spoil. If the shallot has started to sprout, this is also a sign of spoilage.

How do you keep shallots from going bad? ›

The best way to store shallots is whole. Whole shallots can be placed uncovered in the refrigerator. Chopped or sliced shallots can be sealed in a food storage bag like Glad® Flex'n Seal® Food Storage Quart Bags. They stretch to hold 30% more*, giving you 30% more chances to shake up your palate with shallot!

Do fried shallots go bad? ›

Once cooked, drained and completely cooled, homemade fried shallots will maintain their flavor and crispness for around two weeks, though whether they last that long will depend on your own willpower (and how good your hiding place is).

What pairs well with shallots? ›

  • Red Apple.
  • Mango.
  • Green Apple.
  • Fig.
  • Lemon White.
  • Ripe Peach.
  • Blackberry Ginger.
  • Plum Agretti.
Nov 23, 2015

Why do you soak shallots in vinegar? ›

It comes from the same compounds in onions that will make you cry when you chop them. When you leave the shallots to soak in vinegar, the bad-aftertaste compounds leave through the cut surface of the vegetable.

Why do chefs prefer shallots? ›

Why do chefs use shallots instead of onions? Some chefs favor shallots because their subtle allium flavor doesn't as easily overpower other flavors in a dish. That said, both onions and shallots are commonly used in professional kitchens, often even in conjunction.

Is a chive a shallot? ›

Shallots look completely different from green onions and chives since they are oval elongated onions. It is purple or copper in color and is smaller than a regular onion. As for spring onions, it is larger than green onions and chives and has a small onion bulb in the base.

What is so special about shallots? ›

Shallots are one of the more versatile ingredients you'll ever come across. They can be used as aromatics to build flavor in a sautéed dish, stock or sauce the same way garlic or onions are sauteed at the beginning of a recipe. Like other vegetables, they can even be roasted whole and served as a side dish.

How long do caramelised onions last in fridge? ›

Caramelized onions keep well in the refrigerator for about 5 days or so. They also can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to use defrost overnight.

Do shallots go bad in the fridge? ›

How long do shallots last in the fridge? Once cut, shallots will last several days if they are sealed in plastic bags and refrigerated. Whole shallots stored in the refrigerator will keep for 2 months.

How long do fried shallots last in the fridge? ›

Once cooked, drained and completely cooled, homemade fried shallots will maintain their flavor and crispness for around two weeks, though whether they last that long will depend on your own willpower (and how good your hiding place is).

Do caramelized onions expire? ›

If you've made caramelized onions at home, it's best to use them within 3-4 days. You can also store them in the freezer for up to 3 months for longer shelf life. How do you tell if Caramelized Onions is bad? The telltale signs that caramelized onions have gone bad are a sour smell, moldy patches, or a slimy texture.

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