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The Kitchn: Easy, elegant brown butter pasta is ready in 30 minutes

The Kitchn: Easy, elegant brown butter pasta is ready in 30 minutes

From the 5 quick and easy meals to make this week series
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Making this dish is all about building flavor as you go.

One of my favorite ways to treat myself comes in the form of this brown butter crab pasta. It’s low-effort and the end result is an elegant dinner I would be proud to serve any guest.

Making it is all about building flavor as you go. While the pasta cooks, you’ll saute the aromatics in nutty brown butter. I like to use chopped shallot, garlic and an anchovy fillet, which gives the base of the sauce a deeply savory (not fishy!) flavor that permeates the entire dish. The anchovy-averse can technically skip it, but I encourage you to try it!

Next, you’ll add white wine until mostly reduced, then toss in cherry tomatoes and cook until the skins begin to burst, breaking a few up with the back of a spoon as you go. Add the crab meat, butter, and a splash of pasta water, then add the pasta and stir until coated in the sauce. Season with salt and top with chives, basil, and freshly ground black pepper. It truly doesn’t get much better.

Crab Pasta with Browned Butter and Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

Serves 4

  • 1 medium shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 small bunch fresh chives
  • 8 ounces picked crab meat, fresh or thawed if frozen
  • 1 pound dried or fresh fettuccine or tagliatelle pasta
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (10 to 11 ounces)
  • Fresh ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, finely chop 1 medium shallot, 4 garlic cloves, and 1 anchovy fillet. Tear fresh basil leaves and finely chop fresh chives until you have 2 tablespoons each for garnish. Pick through 8 ounces cooked crab meat for shells.

2. Add 1 pound pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions until just al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain.

3. Melt 4 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Continue cooking until the butter is browned and nutty-smelling, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallot, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook until the shallot is starting to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the anchovy and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes more.

4. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add 1 pint cherry tomatoes and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and cook until the tomatoes begin to burst and are tender, about 5 minutes.

5. Press on a few tomatoes with the back of a spoon to break them. Add the crab meat and toss to break up any clumps. Add the pasta, remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Toss with tongs until the mixture is evenly mixed and a silky sauce coats the noodles, adding more pasta water a tablespoon at a time as needed. Taste and season with kosher salt as needed. Transfer to plates and top with the basil, chives and freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe note: Water or seafood stock can be used in place of white wine.

(Amelia Rampe is the studio food editor for, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to


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