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Butters, Oils & Pasta Water

The success of these super quick and tasty recipes relies on the holy trinity of pasta cooking: butter or olive oil salty and starchy pasta cooking water and vigorous tossing. Remember that browned butter should be frothy and golden with a nutty aroma but NOT burnt. Oils should never be browned or burnt. The ultimate butter and pasta mixture is butter and Parmesan, which is not included as a recipe, but I am mentioning it here lest we should forget.

 

Classic browned butter & sage

What's not to like? For a lighter citrus twist, you can add lemon juice to this traditional sage butter.

  • 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta
  • 60 g/¹/₂ stick butter
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 2 heaped tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to serve

 

SERVE 2

 

Start to cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Meanwhile, heat the butter and sage leaves in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the butter has melted and begins to colour, but NOT burn, remove from the heat and set aside. Drain the pasta into the sage butter, add a splash of cooking water (about 60 ml/¹/₄ cup) and toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. Serve immediately with the grated Parmigiano extra freshly ground black pepper.

TASTY TOPPER crumbled Amaretti biscuits or crushed toasted hazelnuts

 

 

Stock Cube Browned Butter

Don't knock it until you have tried it. Another college favourite and very, very delicious shortcut, even when college is but a very distant memory.

  • 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta
  • 60 g/¹/₂ stick butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, squashed and peeled (but still whole)
  • a spring of rosemary
  • 1 beef or chicken stock cube, crumbled
  • a splash of white wine
  • 2 heaped tablespoons finely grated finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to serve

 

SERVE 2

 

 

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Start to cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Meanwhile, heat the butter, garlic and rosemary in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the butter and garlic begin to colour, but NOT burn, remove from the heat and stir in a stock cube. Return to the heat, add a good splash of wine and bubble, stirring, until glossy. Remove from the heat and set aside. Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the stock cube butter, add a splash of cooking water (about 60 ml/¹/₄ cup) and toss creamy and well coated. Serve immediately with the grated Parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper. 

TASTY TOPPER crispy olive oil fried egg

 

 

Marmite Browned Butter

Polarising but perfect. Nothing more to say except I love Marmite. Oh and I think that this recipe originates from the brilliant Anna del Conte, who, as an Italian cook living in England, passed it on to her friend Nigella. I love the work of both these lovely ladies as much as I love Marmite and am paying the recipe forward.

  • 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta
  • 60 g/¹/₂ stick butter
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Marmite
  • 2 heaped tablespoons finely grated finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to serve

 

SERVE 2

 

Start to cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the butter begins to colour, but NOT burn, remove from the heat and stir in the Marmite and set aside. Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the Marmite butter, add a splash of cooking water (about 60 ml/¹/₄ cup) and toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. Serve immediately with the grated Parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper. 

TASTY TOPPER toasted breadcrumbs and/or chopped flat leaf parsley

 

 

Al Tartufo

I have included this recipe, just in case you ever find yourself clutching a very large truffle and don't have the foggiest idea what to do with it.

  • 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta
  • 60 g/¹/₂ stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon truffle butter or oil (optional)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons finely grated finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
  • 50 g/2 oz. fresh truffles (white or black)
  • Salt freshly ground black pepper, to serve

 

SERVE 2

 

Start to cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Meanwhile, melt the butter or oil, if using, in a heavy-bottomed pan. Once melted, remove from the heat. Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the butter, add a little salt and pepper and toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. If necessary add a splash of the retained pasta water to loosen up. Using a truffle shaver, shave truffle slices over the portions of pasta. Serve immediately with the finely grated Parmigiano cheese (if using) and plenty of extra freshly ground black pepper.

NOTE Before eating, be sure to mix the truffle into the pasta so it is not only on the top.
Mmmmmm....

 

 

Miso Browned Butter

If there is one thing I shall give my kids when they go off to collage, it will be a good brown miso. This pasta is delicious with or without the garlic and is a super quick go-to pasta in my home.

  • 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta
  • 60 g/¹/₂ stick butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 heaped tablespoons finely grated finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
  • 2 tablespoons brown miso paste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to serve

 

SERVE 2

 

Start to cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Meanwhile, melt the butter and garlic slices in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the butter and garlic begins to colour, but NOT burn, remove from the heat and stir in the miso paste and set aside. Drain the pasta, but keep a cup of cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the garlic miso butter, add a splash of cooking water (about 60 ml/¹/₄ cup) and toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. Serve immediately with the grated Parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper. 

TASTY TOPPER toasted sesame seeds

 

 

Aglio, Olio, Pepperoncini

The ultimate post-party pasta or, less sociably, of quick and quiet contemplation.

  • 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large whole head of garlic, each clove peeled and sliced along the middle 5 mm/¹/₄ inch thick
  • 6 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • ¹/₂-1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes
  • a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 heaped tablespoons finely grated finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
  • salty freshly ground black pepper, to serve

 

SERVE 2

 

Start to cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the garlic, anchovies, if using, and dried chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes. Lightly season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Add less salt if using the anchovies, if not using anchovies, season well. Remove from the heat when the garlic is only just golden on both sides and slightly puffy, and the anchovies have melted. Drain the pasta but keep a cup of cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the garlic oil, adding a splash of the pasta cooking water and the rest of the olive oil. Add the parsley and lemon zest and toss with gusto over a high heat, until the pasta is well coated and creamy. Serve immediately with the grated Parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper.

 

 

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Bottarga or Mojama

Bottarga is salted cured mullet or tuna roe and Mojama (Mosciame) is salted cured tuna loin. Hitherto Mediterranean staples, they are becoming favourites with chefs who use them as powerful flavour toppers.

  • 200 g/7 oz. dried pasta or 160 g/6 oz. fresh pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, squashed, peeled and halved
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 20 g/³/₄ oz. bottarga or mojama*
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 30 g/¹/₄ stick butter grated zest of 1 lemon
  • salty freshly ground black pepper, to serve

*If using mojama, omit the anchovies

 

SERVE 2

 

Start to cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the garlic and anchovies, if not using anchovies, lightly season with salt, but take care as bottarga is really salty. Remove from the heat when the garlic begins to take colour. Drain the pasta but keep a cup of cooking water. Tip the hot drained pasta into the oil and garlic, add the bottarga or mojama, butter lemon zest, parsley and a small splash of the retained pasta cooking water. Toss with gusto over a high heat until the pasta is well coated and creamy. Serve immediately with the grated Parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper.

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