Thursday, December 23, 2010

Brown Butter and Pine Nut Pasta

There are a variety of pasta shapes out there, and they were created with different purposes in mind...

...or the sauces were paired with the pastas because they were complimentay for one reason or another.

Large shells are meant to be stuffed with a meat or cheese, as are canneloni.
Very small pastas are good as an addition to soups (just like rice or barley might be).
Pastas with ridges "catch" bits of meat and sauce.

Personally, I totally prefer pasta shapes to pastas in a long, thin noodle form. I think I just like the textures.

This is a very nice, simple pasta, and I chose the farfalle because the folds will catch little pools of sauce and a pine nut or two.

Make sure not to overcook the pasta in the boiling water. When the pasta is added to the hot sauce, it will continue to cook a bit and soak up the sauce. In fact, for this reason I tend to undercook the pasta by a couple minutes. I want the texture to be perfectly al dente.

Brown Butter and Pine Nut Pasta
serves 6-8

1 lb. farfalle (bowtie) pasta
kosher salt
2 sticks plus 2 T butter (18 T)
1 c pine nuts
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra for serving
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh parsley, stems removed and roughly chopped
fresh Parmesan cheese for serving

Heat a large pot of well-salted water to boiling.
While water heats, melt the butter in another large pot over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the pine nuts, stirring often, until they nuts are a deep golden brown (about 10 minutes). Turn off the heat, remove the nuts from the butter with a slotted spoon or sieve and set aside.
When the pasta is "al dente," remove about 1/2 cup of the cooking water to a cup or a bowl, drain the pasta from the water and add it to the brown butter. Add the reserved water, most of the pine nuts, a sprinkling of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, and chopped parsley, and stir to combine.
Serve the pasta with fresh Parmesan cheese and a grating of fresh nutmeg. Sprinkle a few of the reserved pine nuts on top.



  2. So what if I want to use a nut oil as opposed to butter? Would, for example, pumpkin seed oil brown like that? Olive oil wouldn't, would it?

  3. I don't know how the oils would work... however, I ASSUME they won't behave the same because the oils wouldn't have solids, as the butter does. The part of the butter that browns is the milk solids- and that's where the nutty flavor comes from.
    If you choose to use an oil, I suppose frying the nuts in the oil wouldn't be a problem... you would want to check out the smoking point of the oil. You don't want something with a very low smoking point, as this is when the oil starts breaking down, and it won't taste as good.
    If you're worried about this, maybe you could fry the nuts in a small amount of butter (or potentially a dry pan), and then maybe it would be best to toss the pasta with warmed oil of your choice.