Pine nuts + capers + brown butter pasta

I equate the invention of this recipe to Sir Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity: it is so good, but it also makes sense. I sent a text to one of my sisters that this was, in fact, the best thing I've ever made.

The sweetness of the pine nuts alongside caramelized shallots balances out the brine of the chopped capers. I always recommend finishing pasta dishes with finely chopped parsley because it seems to alleviate some of the heft of eating noodles. Below, I talk about why I specify using fresh pasta.

After a long day at the office, this is an easy one to throw together, as these are ingredients you can easily keep on hand. The following portion will feed about four hungry folks, but it's very easy to just fourth this sucker for a date night with the very best person: yourself.

What to know

There are certain things in the world I don't believe in spending a lot of money on or buying the gourmet product of. There couldn't be anything dumber than using fancy wine to cook or buying top-of-the-line all purpose flour; you're cooking it into something and, innately, you won't be able to taste what you should be tasting or it does the exact same job as the bargain brand. Anyways, splurging – if you can even call it that – on fresh pasta is always worth it in almost every instance.

Nowadays, brands like Bertolli offer fresh, un-dried pasta options at your standard grocery store in the refrigerator section, and these are fine. But it's that Italian grocer or pasta spot you read about but have never been too that's going to make you the best possible meal. This is a dish that is not defined by, but is certainly enhanced by your choice to use a fresh noodle. The texture offers a more distinct snap when you bite into an al dente noodle; that slinky slime of dried pasta is avoided altogether. Fresh pasta also freezes beautifully; you just add a few more minutes to the cook time to thaw the noodle fully.

Keep in mind that using dried pasta for pasta salads, cooked pasta casseroles or macaroni and cheese – when noodles are submerged in a sauce or need to cook longer – is totally fine.

What you need

1 lb fresh pasta (fettucini preferably)

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup capers, roughly chopped

2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Olive oil, for sauteing shallot

 

How it works

For pasta

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil (you want the water to taste like the Atlantic). Add pasta and cook until al dente, following the instructions included with the fresh pasta that you purchased. Set aside in a colander until needed below.

For toppings

Add finely chopped shallot to a large saute pan with about 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Over medium heat, slowly cook the shallot until soft and begins to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. Do not burn the shallot; turn down the heat to medium-low or low, if necessary.

Add butter to the saute pan and crank up the heat to medium-high in order to cook the butter more quickly – it may begin to froth, and that's okay. Cook the butter until it reaches a caramel-y brown and begins to smell nutty, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

Add capers, pine nuts, parsley and pasta to the pan, and mix until combined. Once tasting, add salt and pepper if desired.

Serve immediately. This will keep in your fridge up to a week, and is delicious reheated on the stove or in the microwave.

Pair this with a Sancerre or a light-bodied Pinot Noir. A glass will do, but a bottle may be necessary if you week was anything like mine.