Browned Butter Cauliflower and Fettuccine with Parmesan
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Everything is better with browned butter. And parmesan.
If you’ve never browned butter, it’s the best five minutes you’ll spend this month. The nutty, aromatic, and rich flavor that butter takes on after it’s been browned is magical. I explained exactly what to do in step four of the recipe section if you’re a newbie.
The dish is easy, ready in under 30 minutes, and is a perfect comfort food meal.
While the cauliflower roasts to bring out its natural flavors, the fettucine is boiling, and butter is browning. You don’t really have to ‘do’ much except watch over things to make sure nothing is charring, bubbling over, or burning.
After the cauliflower is out of the oven, the pasta has cooked, and the butter has browned, toss everything together, shave parmesan cheese over the top, garnish with parsley, and dig in.
My family said this was the best pasta dish I’ve ever made. Ironically there’s no meat and they don’t like cauliflower.
Proving that even people who think they don’t like cauliflower will love it like this.
- 1 pound (16 ounces) fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
- 1 small/medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 2 to 3 cups, enough to fill a baking sheet)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- about 1 ounce parmesan cheese, shaved
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced for garnishing
- Cook fettuccine according to package directions, drain, and set aside. While fettucine is cooking, start the cauliflower.
- Preheat oven to the broiler setting and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleanup.
- To the baking sheet, add the cauliflower, evenly drizzle with olive oil, evenly season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss to coat evenly. Broil for about 8 to 15 minutes, or until cauliflower is lightly charred and crisp-tender. I broil on the second to the top oven rack because on my top oven rack food tends to simply char; therefore it takes about 15 minutes on the second rack, but broiling time will vary greatly based on the strength of your broiler, which rack you’re using, and preference for doneness. Keep an eye on it and broil as long as desired. While cauliflower is broiling, start browning the butter.
- To a large skillet, add the butter and heat over medium-high heat to melt. After butter has melted, it will begin to sputter (this is the water releasing), and in about 3 to 5 minutes, you’ll start seeing small brown specks at the bottom of the skillet. At this point, watch butter closely because it can go from dark golden with a few brown specks to the whole thing looking very brown and dark, or burnt. I push the envelope before taking the skillet off the heat and let the butter get as dark as possible before it burns so that I can achieve as much nutty, aromatic, and flavor as possible. It’s only in the last 30 to 60 seconds that I swirl the pan gently and for the rest of the time I leave it alone and just watch.
- After butter has browned, remove skillet from the heat, and carefully add the dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper, optional cayenne, and whisk to combine. Note that the butter will bubble up, get foamy, and the mustard will appear to almost separate momentarily. Keep whisking until everything it smooths out; set aside.
- To a large bowl, add the pasta, cauliflower, pour the browned butter mixture over the top, and toss gently to combine. Taste, and make any desired tweaks (add more salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne for heat, etc.)
- Evenly shave the parmesan over the top.
- Evenly garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Dish is best warm and fresh, but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat gently prior to serving.
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