If you're looking for a fuss-free meal that makes you feel cosy and snug in a snap, this dish is for you. Buttered pasta is a favourite at our house, and it's one of the first things my children learned to make on their own.
Think of it as the butter version of the Italian Aglio e Olio (spaghetti with olive oil and garlic).
It has just 5 ingredients and minimal prep. While we tend to use spaghetti or linguine for this dish, I wanted to take our new organic penne pasta out for a spin, and it works beautifully!
Prep time: 15 mins; Cook Time: 10 mins
350g pasta of choice
125g / ½ cup butter, cubed
(this amount is ½ a standard 250g block of butter)
6-10 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp parsley, chopped roughly
Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and remember to salt it well (a generous tsp should do). Add pasta and keep it cooking at a rolling boil until it’s al dente. Ladle out ¾ cup of the pasta water into a jug or mug and put it aside. Drain pasta, then sit the colander containing the drained pasta in the cooking pot you just used.
While pasta cooks, make your sauce. Add ¾ of the cubed butter to a large frypan on medium heat. (Reserve the remaining butter - it’ll be around 1 tbsp - you’ll add it to the sauce at the end).
When butter is completely melted and starting to get foamy, add the garlic. Keeping the pan at the same heat, stir the garlic through the butter for 1 minute, or until the butter starts to turn a little golden.
Add the lemon juice and reserved pasta water to the garlic butter, and increase the heat to bring it to a rapid boil. Stir it constantly for about 1 minute, or until the butter, water and lemon juice emulsify - you’ll know when that happens when the sauce looks glossy and shiny.
Reduce heat to low. Add the drained pasta to the butter sauce in the fry pan and stir it through gently for a minute or 2 - use tongs for long pasta like spaghetti, or for shorter pasta like penne use a large cooking spoon.
Turn the heat off and add the parsley and lemon zest to the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve straight away.
Pimp my Recipe
Brown the butter for a truly special variation. When you're melting the butter in the pan, add the garlic as per instructions then leave it on the heat for a further 2-3 minutes. As you stir it, look down to the bottom of the pan and you'll see the butter start to turn golden, then at that 2-3 minute mark it will deepen to golden brown. At that point add your lemon juice and pasta water.
Feel free to omit lemon zest. My kids have an aversion to it, so maybe it’s a thing? I tend to add it to my serve alone because my kids are of course wrong, zest is delicious and adds a whole new dimension. Some kids don't like lemon full stop so you can omit the lemon - zest and juice - entirely if you like, and you'll still have a cracking meal.
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Fried breadcrumbs scattered over the pasta before serving is utterly delicious.