This brown butter pasta is easy enough to make after a long week, but special enough for a date night. Asparagus, lemon and basil bring the farmer’s market vibes!
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- 1 pound spaghetti, gluten free if needed
- 8 ounces asparagus
- 1/ 2 cup roughly chopped raw walnuts
- 1 lemon, zest and juice divided
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/ 4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/ 2 cup grated parmesan
- 1/ 2 cup fresh basil, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to package instructions, 1 minute less than the al dente time. Before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain and rinse the pasta to prevent it from sticking together.
While you’re waiting for the pasta to cook, cut off the woody ends of the asparagus (about 1” off the end). Cut the remainder of the asparagus into 2” diagonal pieces and set aside.
To the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt 2 tablespoons (28g) of butter over low-medium heat. Add chopped walnuts and a pinch of salt. Stir constantly for 3 minutes or until the walnuts are toasted and fragrant and the butter has browned in colour. Pour the walnuts onto a plate and set aside.
Clean out pan with a paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter (15g). Add sliced asparagus and a pinch of salt. Stir for about 1 minute or until the spears are just becoming vibrant green. Add lemon zest and stir for an additional 1-2 minutes or until tender, but still firm. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Wipe out the pot with a paper towel. Over low heat, melt the remaining 7 tablespoons (100g) of butter and ¼ tsp salt. Stir constantly until foamy. Once the foaming subsides, after about 3 minutes, add red pepper flakes and smashed garlic, continuing to stir until the butter has browned and is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Slowly add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and whisk for 2 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves and discard. Whisk in grated parmesan and lemon juice until combined.
Add pasta and asparagus and return to medium heat. Using tongs gently toss to coat the pasta with the browned butter sauce until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Serve with the toasted walnuts on top, parmesan, and fresh basil.