I woke up this morning with a serious hankering for pasta. Something simple and flavorful. Before my first sips of coffee, I set a big pot on the stove to boil. The kitchen windows steamed against the grey, rainy mist outside. The pup scampered about as I looked through the pantry. Linguine. Garlic. Maybe some breadcrumbs? In the fridge I found butter, some herbs to use up. Parmesan. Definitely Parmesan.
The breadcrumbs toasted away in a big skillet. I stared at the remaining stick of butter. A brown butter sauce would be perfect…
Brown butter is simply butter that is cooked beyond its melting point. As it cooks, the milk solids separate from the butterfat, and begin to brown. These golden little flecks give the butter a deep amber tone, and this transformation leads to a richer, nutty flavor.
It was settled. I set about making a quick brown butter sauce with lots of garlic and sage. A few minutes of whisking and it was ready, golden-flecked and gorgeous. I tossed the warm pasta with the brown butter, and topped it with the toasted breadcrumbs, herbs, a happy dusting of Parmesan, and a pinch of red pepper flakes for good measure. A simple, comforting dinner, perfect for a chilly Winter day cooped up inside… and all before 8 a.m.!
- 8 oz dry pasta (linguine, spaghetti, fettuccine, etc.)
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground sage
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- optional: dried red pepper flakes, to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs, parsley, thyme and nutmeg, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
- Use a paper towel to wipe out the skillet (carefully!), and return the skillet to the burner. Add the remaining butter. When the butter melts and begins to foam, start whisking. Add the sage and garlic, and cook, whisking continuously, until the butter begins to bubble, and golden brown flecks begin to form in the bottom of the pan, about 5-8 minutes. When the butter looks just about ready (golden but not black), remove from the heat and continue whisking for another minute or so. If not using immediately for the pasta, transfer the butter to a different container, as the hot pan will continue the cooking process.
- Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet, and stir to combine, being sure to evenly coat the pasta with the brown butter. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan and divide among bowls. Serve warm.