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Caramelised onion orecchiette with hazelnuts and sage

Main Midweek
Serves 4
Prep 15 min
Cook 50 min

This is a great pasta dish for when you don’t have much in the pantry. Like cacio e pepe, it’s one of those dishes that feels so much more than the sum of its parts. Other nuts will also work well (walnuts or almonds are particularly good), if that’s all you have.


105ml olive oil
20g sage leaves
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced (320g)
250g orecchiette (or casarecce or small conchiglie)
1½ tbsp lemon juice
50g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
salt and freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Put the oil in a large saute pan for which you have lid, and place on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sage leaves and fry, stirring often, for about four minutes, until dark green and crisp, then tip into a sieve set over a small bowl. Spoon two tablespoons of the sage oil into a small frying pan and set aside.
  2. Return the saute pan to a medium-high heat, pour in the rest of the sage oil from the bowl and, once hot, add the onions and sweat, stirring regularly, for 25 minutes, until golden but not dark. Tip the pasta into the pan, add 700ml room-temperature water, a teaspoon and a quarter of salt and a quarter-teaspoon of cracked black pepper, and stir to combine. Cover the pan, turn down the heat to medium and leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is al dente. Drizzle over the lemon juice and sprinkle on another quarter-teaspoon of cracked pepper, cover again and set aside.
  3. Put the small frying pan with the reserved sage oil on a medium heat, add the hazelnuts and fry gently until golden. Spoon the nuts and the oil all over the pasta, sprinkle on the crisp fried sage leaves and serve hot straight from the pan.