Penne with Brown Butter, Arugula, and Pine Nuts

I lived on dorm dinning hall food my entire four years of college. I know what you are thinking, “How could someone possibly eat that stuff for four years?” My answer, easy, especially when your college is ranked by Princeton Review as having one of the top 10 best campuses for food.

So when I graduated form college and moved into my first apartment I had absolutely no idea how to cook. My mom, being the amazing mom that she is, hand wrote a bunch of no fail recipes for me so that I didn’t resort to frozen dinners, take-out, or starving. One of my favorites was salad bar pasta. It literally was the easiest thing to make and did not even involve cutting vegetables. Which was good news for everyone seeing as I am a self-proclaimed stupid-accident prone person. Who else do you know that has broken their nose paddle boarding, split their eyebrow open playing flag football for 3 minutes, or gotten 10 stitches on their knee after slicing it open on a coffee table? Enough said. So salad bar pasta basically entailed selecting pre-cut vegetables off the salad bar at the grocery store and sauteing them with minced garlic and olive oil. Then tossing over pasta with a little Parmesan cheese. Not super exciting stuff but it saved me from the frozen food section many many times.

I like to think of this recipe as the superstar sibling to salad bar pasta. It literally is a salad on pasta but in a much more sophisticated form and with my new favorite game-changing ingredient – butter.

The key ingredients (besides pasta and butter): cherry or grape tomatoes, roasted pine nuts, arugula, and Parmesan cheese.

I think this recipe could be as easy as the original salad bar pasta recipe.

First step is to create the dressing: extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Then boil salted water for the pasta and cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile melt the butter over medium heat in a high sided skillet, whisking to get it frothy. Continue to cook the butter until it has a nutty aroma and turns a caramel color. Remove it from the heat.

Toss the pasta (drained with water reserved), halved tomatoes, arugula, roasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and dressing with the butter. Add reserved pasta water as necessary to loosen sauce. Plate and serve.

This was absolutely delicious and a great way to showcase summer produce. Plus who could ask for an easier week day dinner? The recipe did call for capers but I totally forgot we had run out so I left them out. I do not feel like the recipe was missing anything so will probably continue making this without capers, plus the hubby isn’t the biggest fan of them.

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