Orecchiette with Caramelized Onions

      2 tablespoons olive oil

      1/2 cup diced pancetta

      2 large Spanish onions or sweet onions, sliced thinly

      Salt and freshly ground pepper

      1 pound orecchiette (little ears) pasta

      1 cup whipping cream

      1/4 cup butter, softened

      1 cup grated Parmesan

      8 ounces grated smoked  mozzarella or San Simon cheese (Spain)

      2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sauté pancetta in small skillet over medium heat for three minutes or until crisped and golden.  Drain on paper towels.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and salt them immediately.  Sauté for three minutes or until they are coated in oil.  Turn heat to medium-low and continue to cook onions for 30 to 40 minutes until they become a thick golden mass.  Season well.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil.  Add orecchiette and boil until al dente.  Drain immediately and transfer to large bowl.  Stir in cream, butter, 1/2 cup Parmesan, onions and smoked cheese.

Transfer to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and dot with butter.  l

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is hot and top is slightly browned.

Serves 6.

From Globe and Mail, 27 Sept 2003 (Lucy Waverman) e-mail lwaverman@globeandmail.ca