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Meatless Mondays: Penne with Brown Butter

Aaron is always on the prowl for recipes. He looks up recipes for fun. He watches the Food Network on his lunch breaks. One day this week he was eating lunch in the break room at work watching Giada and she made this recipe that Aaron claimed looked delish. Naturally, we had to give it a try. I’m a carbivore so pasta is always an option for me but I’m not always a fan eating the fattening sauces that usually come with the chunky carbs. This pasta dish is packed with flavor but without hardly any sauce. Amazing!

This dish was a  team effort. Really, Aaron was the leader but I stepped in and took over at the end. But make sure to give Aaron props for finding this amazing dish that is now on our rotation.

1/4c olive oil

Zest a lemon.

2 tsp of salt. And that’s all the salt you need the entire meal!

Juice that lemon. Show it who’s boss.

Pour the lemon juice in the mix.

1/2 tsp of black pepper


Brown 1/2 stick of butter.

Add the pasta.

Add your dressing.



Roast pine nuts and let them cool.

Add those.


The best part….Parmesan cheese!

The final, delicious product.

This pasta is seriously so good!

Here’s Giada’s recipe. We followed it pretty closely except I added about 1.5c of tomatoes. You can never have too many tomatoes in my opinion.



  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 pound penne rigate pasta
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (see Cook’s Note)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained


For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper until smooth. Set aside.

For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water

In a high-sided skillet, whisk the butter over medium heat until melted. Simmer until foamy. Continue to cook until the butter has a nutty aroma and turns a caramel color, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pasta, dressing, arugula, tomatoes, Parmesan, pine nuts, and capers. Toss until coated, adding the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce, if needed. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.

Cook’s Note: To toast the pine nuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before using.


I’m sure plenty of you are anxious to see some pictures of baby Kailey’s dresser transformation that I did for Jaclyn. Well, just hold tight. That post will be up tomorrow. I’m really excited about showing it off!

**EDIT** The dresser makeover post is up. You can check that out HERE.

  • Maddy - Wow!!! Now that looks yummy! I'll make sure leave the vodka sauce aside and try this next time! ReplyCancel

  • Aaron - Seriously this pasta is no joke. It is AMAZING! ReplyCancel

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