Caramelized Shallot Pasta

.I give full credit for this recipe to Alison Roman, former NY Times food columnist and now writer of her own newsletter and cooking series. This recipe spiked in popularity during the pandemic. The use of simple pantry ingredients combined with quick and easy cooking techniques makes it a winner in my book. The intense flavors of deeply caramelized shallots, anchovies (another great way to use this tinned fish), and tomato paste create a rich, savory paste that coats each strand of pasta without being saucy.

This dish is as rich in antioxidants as it is in flavor. Shallots and garlic are both sources of allicin, a plant compound with known anti-oxidant properties. Tomato paste, one of the best sources of lycopene, a cousin to beta-carotene, with research supporting its role in reducing blood pressure and prostate cancer risk. And of course, omega-3 rich anchovies. Serve this pasta with sautéed dark leafy greens and you’ve got yourself a nutrient explosion!

Check out our cooking video of this recipe over at Athens Nutrition’s Facebook page!

Caramelized Shallot Pasta


1/4 cup olive oil

6-8 large shallots, about 1 1/2 pounds, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced (original recipe calls for 5, thinly sliced)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, more if you like it spicy

1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets, about 12, drained

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

10 ounces pasta of choice

1 cup parsley or basil, finely chopped


  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch-oven or heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium/high heat. Add shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are caramelized with golden-brown fried edges, about 18-20 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, red pepper flake, anchovy fillets and tomato paste. Turn heat down to medium. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste has cooked to a deeper brick red color, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer 1/2 of the mixture to a resealable container. Save for later use. See notes below for how to use it.
  4. Cook pasta according to package until very al dente. No need to drain the pasta, with tongs, transfer the pasta directly from cooking liquid to Dutch oven containing the shallot mixture. Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta cooking water. Add 1 cup of pasta water to the pasta mixture and cook over medium-high heat, stirring the pasta to coat strand with thick “sauce”, about 3-5 minutes. Be sure to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot. Pasta will be sticky, not saucy.
  5. Serve with chopped parsley or basil, salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Alison Roman’s original recipe at

Notes: I took the liberty to modify a few ingredients and cooking directions. I increased the number of shallots slightly, reduced the garlic and minced it instead of slicing it, adding it later in the recipe to prevent burning. I used basil instead of parsley and did not add raw garlic to the herbs.

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