Our Caramelized Shallot Pasta recipe is quick and easy to make at home, ready to serve in under an hour.
The European-inspired entree features a velvety shallot cream sauce featuring caramelized French shallots and grated parmesan cheese. The sauce is tossed in al dente pasta and topped with crispy fried shallots for an addictive crunch.
This vegetarian recipe is a comforting and satisfying supper, best served with a fresh salad or selection of antipasto.
Our step by step guide to making the best shallot pasta recipe is inspired by our travels to Italy. Take a trip with us by forking through a bowl of creamy caramelized shallot pasta. Your dinner guests will love it so much they’ll be licking shallot cream sauce out of their empty bowls!
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What Are French Shallots?
French shallots, also known as dry shallots, look like small onions and can be differentiated by their elongated pear shape and delicate flavour.
A member of the onion family, shallots close relatives include garlic, scallions, leeks and chives. They break down more easily when cooked and are perfect for caramelizing or using in sauces.
Today, 90% of traditional shallot production in France is found in Brittany and the Loire Valley. The perennial bulbous plant is available year-round.
French shallot cultivation requires skill and expertise. Originating from a bulb, it is planted and harvested by hand then sun-dried.
The French shallot is registered under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), which covers agricultural products closely linked to their geographical area. You’ll find similar designations in other traditional high quality artisanal European culinary products such as Champagne from Epernay and Iberico Ham from Spain.
There are a variety of nutritious French shallots cultivated today including Echalote Grise, Griselle, Jermor, Longor and Mikor.
We love cooking with French shallots as they are so versatile. You can saute shallots in butter or olive oil for a flavourful broth in a homemade soup. Sweet caramelized shallots when cooked over a longer period with sweet wine or sherry is an excellent addition to a creamy sauce. Thinly slice shallots and fry them in hot oil to create a crispy topping for noodle bowls or salads.
Pasta in Shallot Cream Sauce
One of Roman’s most popular dishes is Caramelized Shallot Pasta. Her rendition features rich umami flavours featuring ingredients like tomato paste, anchovy fillets, shallots, garlic and parsley.
Long before Alison Roman shared her Shallot Pasta recipe I had been making my own Caramelized Shallot Pasta for friends and family. My recipe features an addictive shallot cream sauce, thickened with grated parmesan cheese.
I love shallots so much I’ve celebrated their versatility in this recipe using two unique cooking methods. The creamy sauce is prepared with sweet caramelized shallots, tossed in al dente pasta and topped with crispy fried shallots.
You’ll love the creamy caramelized shallot flavour of the sauce contrasted with the crispy and crunchy fried shallots on top!
Travel to Europe by Cooking Caramelized Shallot Pasta at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
What I love most about traveling to Italy is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The dishes in Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Volterra, Saturnia, Pitigliano, Sorano, Montalcino, Siena) are unique from what you’d find in Venice, Modena, Milan, Rome, and Amalfi Coast.
Once back home from an Italian holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for local regional flavours and will have likely found a new favourite pasta shape. You can impress friends and family by making this easy pasta recipe swimming in shallot cream sauce.
Best Pasta Shapes For Shallot Cream Sauce
This easy creamy shallot pasta recipe works well with many different pasta shapes. Since it is made up of a simple cream sauce and doesn’t have any large chunky ingredients you need to fork through like meat, seafood or roasted vegetables.
Here are our favourite pastas to serve with shallot cream sauce:
- Bucatini: are a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the centre. They are common throughout Lazio, particularly Rome.
- Cavatelli: are small pasta shells from eggless semolina dough that resemble miniature hot dog buns, commonly cooked with garlic and broccoli.
- Pici: is thick, hand-rolled pasta, like fat spaghetti. It originates in the province of Siena in Tuscany.
- Gnocchi: are a varied family of dumpling in Italian cuisine. They are made of small lumps of dough that can be composed of semolina, ordinary wheat flour, egg, cheese and potato.
- Spaghetti: is a long, thin, solid, cylindrical pasta. It is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine and an excellent companion to simple sauces like shallot cream sauce and marinara.
- Orecchiette: are a pasta typical of Apulia, a region of Southern Italy. Their name comes from their shape, which resembles a small ear.
Where To Eat Pasta
Haven’t traveled to Italy before? It may be helpful to first sample caramelized shallot pasta at a local Italian restaurant to better understand how the dish might be served. Order pasta in shallot cream sauce off a restaurant menu to get an idea of the best pasta shape to use, perfect sauce to pasta ratio and creative garnishes and toppings.
In Toronto, popular Italian restaurants in Yorkville, King West and Ossington that may serve their own Shallot Pasta recipe include Bar Vendetta, Buca, Superpoint, Amano, Fabbrica, Oretta, FIGO, Nodo, Locale Mercatto, The Good Son, Taverna Mercatto, Ascari Enoteca, Il Fornello or Gusto 101.
My Family Loves Pasta in Shallot Cream Sauce
Like many Canadians and Americans, one of my families favourite comfort foods to enjoy at dinner is Mac & Cheese.
My mom used to make Mac & Cheese for my sister and I when were were little kids every year for our birthdays. Our family recipe uses French technique, forming a roux, then adding milk and cheese to create a mornay sauce.
When developing this Shallot Pasta recipe I borrowed one of our families favourite mac & cheese cooking techniques. We always caramelize onions or shallots then add them to the mornay to give the cheese sauce a delicious oniony undertone.
My caramelized shallot pasta recipe is not thickened with a roux. Instead we rely on whipping cream and shredded parmesan cheese to create a velvety shallot cream sauce.
Pasta Recipe Tips
This French shallot pasta recipe is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for home cooks.
- Use a dutch oven to cook large amounts of pasta in salted water.
- Use a high quality non-stick skillet to caramelize shallots and prepare the cream sauce.
- We suggest using a rubber spatula when stirring the sauce so it’s easy to scrape down the sides and bottom of the skillet to prevent burning.
- We suggest using dry sherry when preparing the shallot cream sauce but you could substitute for marsala, vermouth or sweet white wine.
- We’ve used parmesan cheese to thicken the sauce but you could substitue for asiago or gruyere.
- The key to making caramelized shallots is to cook them over low heat over a long period of time. If you turn up the heat to quicken the speed of caramelization they will likely burn.
- French shallots contain natural sugars that when cooked slowly create a caramelized flavour as the water inside slowly evaporate. If you want to create a sweeter caramelized shallot feel free to add a little sugar or honey.
- This recipe is vegetarian but if you’re looking to add protein feel free to toss the shallot cream sauce with garlic shrimp or roasted beef tenderloin tips.
What To Serve with French Shallot Pasta
There’s nothing more comforting than cozying up to a bowl of pasta in shallot cream sauce.
If you’re hosting a potluck party we love serving this vegetarian entree alongside Instant Pot Short Rib Ragu, Cheesy Polenta, Gruyere Grilled Cheese, Old School Cheese and Onion Pie, Tartiflette Reblochon, Ricotta Gnocchi, Creamy Warm Orzo Lemon Salad and Homemade Pici Cacio e Pepe Pasta.
If you’re preparing caramelized shallot pasta for yourself or a small group it pairs nicely with fresh salads like Roasted Pumpkin Feta Salad, Roasted Beetroot Salad, Canadian Salad, Garlic Lemon Chickpea Avocado Salad, Cherry Pecan Kale Salad or Fennel, Apple, Celery and Roasted Hazelnut Salad.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe, Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers, Rhubarb Strawberry Dutch Baby or Jordgubbstårta Swedish Strawberry Cake.
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This is a Dobbernationloves post sponsored by the European Union and INTERFEL (Interprofessional organisation of fresh fruits and vegetables).
Best Caramelized Shallot Pasta in Cream Sauce Recipe
Fried & Caramelized Shallot Pasta in Cream Sauce
- Metal slotted spoon
- French knife
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- cheese grater
- Non-stick skillet
- Dutch Oven
- 4 French Shallots peeled and thinly sliced
- Canola Oil for frying
Creamy Caramelized Shallot Pasta
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 6 French Shallots thinly sliced
- 4 cloves Garlic minced
- Kosher Salt & Pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp Dry Sherry
- 1 Lemon juice and zest
- 1 cup Whipping Cream
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese grated
- 10 oz Bucatini Pasta
- 1 tbsp Chives chopped
- Place thinly sliced shallots in a wok and submerge in vegetable oil. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring often with a metal slotted spoon to ensure shallot rings don't stick.
- Cook shallots for 15-20 minutes, removing just as they start to brown as they can burn quickly. Remove fried shallots with a metal slotted spoon and let rest on paper towel. Set aside.
Creamy Caramelized Shallot Pasta
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente, according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile in a large nonstick skillet heat butter and olive oil over medium low heat until melted. Add sliced shallots and minced garlic, stirring for 2-3 minutes until nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper.
- Turn down to medium low heat and gently add dry sherry, lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir to combine then slowly add whipping cream. Continuously stir to ensure the acid in the lemon does not curdle the cream.
- Once pasta is finished cooking ladle 2 tablespoons of pasta water into the sauce before straining the pasta in a colander over your sink.
- Add the cooked pasta to the shallot cream sauce and toss with 3/4 cup parmesan cheese. Stir for 30 seconds before serving into pasta bowls or dinner plates.
- Sprinkle shallot cream pasta with remaining parmesan cheese and a few cracks of freshly ground pepper. Top with crispy fried shallots and chopped chives. Serve hot.
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