Pasta, like Mexican food, is another one of those things that doesn’t exactly get fair air-time on this blog. At least not in a reality-to-blog kind of way. I’d guess that we eat some kind of pasta for dinner at least once a week, especially on those days when 6 pm sneaks up on us, and all hungry eyes are on me, imploring, “Aren’t you going to feed us?” That’s usually when I get a big pot of water boiling, and either start a pot of this yummy sauce, or scrounge around the fridge for something vaguely nutritious to toss into the mix.
Yesterday was such a day, and the scrounging in the fridge turned up some leftover Brussels sprouts and lemons, and a closer inspection of the pantry yielded a jar of almonds. And, this goes without saying, but we have butter. Butter is a given. Butter for browning.
Yep, there I go with the browned butter again. See, I just can’t help myself. It’s a sickness.
The reason that all this pasta we eat doesn’t usually end up here, is because sometimes it’s just good enough. Everyone likes it, our bellies are filled, we move on. Or in the case of the tomato-onion sauce, you’ve already heard all about it. Sometimes, embarrassingly, it’s because pasta nights largely coincide with, “OMG, I need dinner ready like yesterday” nights, in which case things like writing down recipes and snapping pictures don’t really enter my consciousness. Well, I’m glad that last night I was able to staunch the stream of pitiful hunger wails by offering the tot some strawberries while I scribbled down amounts and took a few photos. Because I’ll be making this again. Hopefully many times.
Even though this meal came together quickly, the payoff was huge. There was no complicated sauce to fuss over, just everything tossed together in one big pot at the end. But the way everything blended together was to die for. The barely roasted sprouts were perfectly tender and sweet, and the bits of almond clung to the strands of pasta, for the perfect nut-to-noodle ratio (didn’t you know about the N-to-N ratio?! Very scientific stuff.) The nutty sweetness of the browned butter along with the bright acidity of the lemon juice are a marriage made in heaven. And has anyone ever turned down their nose at the addition of a big handful of Parmigiano to pasta? I think not. This pasta was perfection. And it was ready in under 20 minutes. It was gobbled down in less time than that. Now that’s way better than good enough, in my book.
- 1/2 lb spaghetti or pasta of your choice
- 1/2 lb Brussells sprouts, sliced into 1/4" thick pieces
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup grated parmagiano-reggiano, plus more for serving
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, on a sheet pan, toss Brussels sprouts with the olive oil until coated. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, then give a light toss with a spatula and add the almonds to the pan. Put the pan back in the oven for another 7 minutes or so, or until the sprouts are tender, but not mushy, and the almonds are lightly golden. Set aside.
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain in a colander. Do not return the pasta to the pot right away. In the pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter. Continue cooking the butter on low-medium heat, until it just starts to brown and you can smell a nutty aroma coming from the pan. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, followed by the pasta, sprouts, parm, and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper. Toss the pasta well until everything is incorporated. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with extra parm to sprinkle on top.