Some days I just need a big bowl of pasta in my life. Yes, a big bowl of buttery pasta with a few herbs, mushrooms, and LOTS of parmesan cheese…Mmmm. No fancy red sauce, no meat–just fresh herbs, mushrooms, and the nuttiness from a perfectly browned butter. Deliciously fulfilling.
In this recipe, I used crimini mushrooms. They are a more mature version of the white button mushroom. There is a slight difference in flavor, a darker color, and have a firmer texture. They are sometimes called the “baby bella,” since they have a heartiness about them similar to the portobello mushroom. I love using them in quite a few recipes or when I just don’t feel like serving meat in a dish, but still want that firm texture component. Toasted almonds also bring a nice crunchy element to this recipe. I think the best dishes always have some sort of crunchy element. Different textures in foods keep the palette engaged and interested.
This next recipe is very simple to make. Browning the butter can be a little tricky, but if you are attentive, you can achieve it perfectly. Browned butter has a deep yellow or caramel color, and a nutty flavor. It is perfect for fish, chicken, veggies, and of course pasta. The trick to creating a perfect brown butter sauce is to make sure the temperature of the pan is right. If it is too high in temperature, it will burn. The melting process over medium low heat separates the water content, fat, and milk solids, creating a toasted amber color and a hazelnut-like flavor. Brown butter can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator and used in savory recipes, or for baking. Magical! Let’s eat.
Here is the recipe:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
- ½ Lb spaghetti
- ½ cup of unsalted butter (8 Tbsp), cut into equal Tbsp size pieces
- 6-8 crimini mushrooms, diced small
- 1 medium sprig of thyme, finely chopped
- 1 large sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
- Italian parsley (for garnish)
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- A drizzle of olive oil
- Toasted almond slices
- Parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
To make the pasta:
- Boil your pasta as directed on the package. A good pot of boiling salted water usually makes perfect al dente pasta. Cook for about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
To cook the mushrooms:
- Drizzle some olive oil in a small sauté pan and turn to medium heat.
- Add the mushrooms, salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic powder. Stirring often, cook for 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
To make the brown butter:
- Place the butter in a light colored or stainless steel sauté pan. This will help you see the speed at which your butter is melting and keep track of how fast it is browning without burning.
- Set the stove temperature to medium low heat.
- With a wooden spoon, stir the butter constantly so the pieces start to melt. Stirring constantly ensures the butter will melt evenly. The milk solids will start to bubble after about 30 seconds. Keep stirring.
- Now you will see it start to foam and bubble more rapidly. This is the water evaporating from the butter fat. Keep stirring.
- Once all the water is evaporated, the milk protein solids begin to cook. Continue stirring so they cook evenly and not brown too quickly.
- Add in the finely chopped rosemary and thyme. This will infuse the earthy flavors into the butter.
- As the foam begins to mellow out, it should start to change in color. Keep your eye on it and keep stirring. It should look light brown, quickly turning an amber color. This is perfect, but give it one final quick swirl or stir, then immediately take your pan off the heat.
To toast the almonds:
- Place the sliced almonds in a small sauté pan on medium heat.
- Turn constantly until they start to brown. Keep watch to keep them from burning.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
To assemble the dish:
- Using tongs, slowly add in your pasta to the herbed brown butter. Stir to coat the noodles completely.
- Add in your mushrooms and toasted almonds. Stir delicately to combine.
- Plate with shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese, and garnish with Italian parsley. If necessary, add more salt and cracked black pepper to taste.