Brown Butter Pasta Salad

I feel like I’m constantly apologizing for lame food pictures…so here I go again. I’m sorry, this pic is from the iphone, and it does NOT do the meal justice. This pasta salad was AH-MAZING.

I was watching the food network the other day & Giada made this recipe. I usually don’t want to jump off the couch and run to the grocery store when watching her show, but this recipe almost prompted me to do just that!! I was not disappointed, nor were the guests at the 4th of July (on the the 3rd of July) party last night. You should scurry out and get the ingredients for this pronto.

I made a few modifications to the recipe so here it is!

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 lb regular penne
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • 1 yellow tomato (for color)
  • 1 orange tomato (for color)
  • 1 package pre-washed baby spinach*
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts
  • 2-3 oz freshly grated romano cheese**
  • 3 Tbsp capers
  • 3/4 stick butter (yes, I upped the butter in the recipe… brown butter is just too darn good!)

Dressing ingredients

  • 1 large lemon, juice & rind
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

The original recipe is made to be served semi warm… I would follow this recommendation. I kind made this in several interesting steps looking to get a cold pasta salad. I think it would have been better if I had just whipped it up last minute. I’m planning to heat the leftovers.

You can see Giada’s original recipe for the details… but basically you are suppose dice the veggies, grate cheese & set aside. Toast pine nuts & set aside (I did this in a fry pan…but WATCH them carefully. They are easy to burn). Whisk all dressing ingredients together, set aside.  Boil the noodles, drain. Then toss all of the ingredients (except the butter) together in a large bowl. The idea is for the cheese to melt into the dish and the arugula (or spinach to wilt down).

Then you slowly brown the butter in a fry pan and add that in to the dish. From the way Giada did it…it looked like she served it immediately at semi room temperature (maybe a little warmer.)

I boiled the noodles then tossed with spinach to wilt. I then cooled the noodles before tossing with all of the remaining ingredients so that I wouldn’t melt the cheese. I liked the way the grated cheese (courtesy of my cuisinart food processor) looked in the dish. It was yummy, but I think the brown butter would have been better in the warm dish 🙂 Anyway, lesson learned, stick to what the chef says!! That said, I have NO regrets. This dish was fantastic 🙂


*The store didn’t have arugula. What? Are you serious…no arugula? How could this BE!!! I should have bought some at the farmers market on Saturday #fail. The spinach stood up well in this dish, but the arugula would have added a lot more flavor!

**Romano was HALF the price of Parmesan. Half. That’s double the cheese for the same price people. I went with romano 🙂

Next time I’m thinking it might be nice to toss in some basil?? maybe some smoked gouda?? 🙂


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Filed under Pasta, Salads

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