November 15, 2013

Brown Butter Lemon Pasta


Brown Butter Lemon Pasta


Brown Butter Lemon Pasta

I know a guy who has dinner almost every Sunday at his mother's house. Always has. He did it when he was just out of college, single and living in his first place and he goes now that he's married with kids of his own. He's not a case of arrested development or Norman Bates. He's a regular guy who likes his mom and honors her by giving the ultimate gift, time. I don't even think she's a spectacular cook - it's not about that. It's comfortable...constant, a way of staying grounded and in touch with who you are. She cooks, makes plenty, keeps the door open and the conversation light.

This appeals to me because, even though my kids are young, I'm a little nuts thinking about the future when they're off in the world and I won't get to see them as much as I do now. Makes me feel preemptively sad. It's a long way off, but if I could lock in Sunday night dinner...well....that's a worthy goal.

I figure a good way to lay the groundwork is to start making easy delicious food on Sundays. Food that doesn't make me crazy with the prep work so I can stay present and relaxed. Food with no agenda other than to taste great and not be too fussy.

This weeks Sunday dinner was brown butter pasta. I've been a devout olive oil girl for most of my adult life but man, let me tell you, butter (particularly when sauteed with garlic, anchovies and lemon) kicks the pants off olive oil. Worthy calories - for a most worthy Sunday dinner.

I love this long fusilli - substantial with nice bouncy mouthfeel.

Brown Butter Lemon Pasta

adapted from Bon Appetit September 2013

serves 4

1/2 cup panko or homemade breadcrumbs*
1 stick unsalted butter
2 lemons
Pinch red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. long fusilli or similar pasta
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2-3 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
Parmesan cheese(optional)
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach

1. Zest one lemon and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, add half of garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Stir a minute (until fragrant) then add panko or breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Put into a bowl and wipe out pan.

3. Bring large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

4. Put remaining butter and walnuts in saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and starts to brown, then add anchovies and remaining garlic and stir until anchovies melt. Add juice from 1-2 lemons (depending on how juicy your lemons are - about 4-5 tablespoons) and spinach ** into pan and let reduce a bit. Salt to taste then add pasta. Toss to coat with sauce. Put into serving bowl and top with grated parmesan and breadcrumbs.

* to make homemade breadcrumbs slice half a baguette into the bowl of a food processor and process until you have large crumbs. Spread on a sheet pan and bake in a 300ยบ oven until dry.

** Add all or half at this point depending on how cooked you like your spinach.  You can add the rest as you're plating it if you want some of it to stay crispy (my preference).




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