I am realising that this whole cooking delicious food and photographing food is not a very easy thing to do. 

First of all, one is actually cooking for hungry people (In my case currently, Mom and Dad). They don’t exactly understand why I have to keep stopping in between to click pictures of raw materials or a process or why it takes the food to come to the table even after it is made. I think they are slowly coming to terms with my crazy.

I know the obvious solution, cook ahead! But here is the second thing, in case of most meals, one can’t wait for dinner time to eat this new concoction one has prepared. Also, it would mean actually planning ahead which is not my greatest skill. I like to just stand in front of the open fridge, see what all I have available and search online for inspiration on how to whip something up.

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This wonderful thing called brown butter is inspiration, I believe. I have read about it in so many recipes and I want to kick myself for not trying it earlier. I always thought, ‘Browned butter? It couldn’t actually be better than original eat-raw, straight-from-the-packet butter? ‘. 

Well, I couldn’t be more disillusioned. 

Brown butter is awesome. It is exactly as the name says – butter cooked till it’s brown. It’s got this nutty aroma that can add a completely different dimension to anything you are making – sweet or savory.  It is also very easy to burn apparently. Here is how you can make it (With super-helpful gifs!).

It’s what made my dinner a few nights ago possibly the best pasta I have ever had. I have come to the conclusion that I like dry, salad-y pastas better than the ones immersed in heavy sauces. It’s lighter and gives more freedom with flavors, ingredients etc. A cold pasta salad is great but if you like it hot, you could just flavor some oil with any spices, make a dressing with and toss it on top of pasta with veggies. I particularly like spicing some olive oil with dried red chilies and using it as a base.

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But I think I am going to forget about olive oil for a while and just use brown butter. It’s worth throwing any diet into the drain for. I think it’s okay to lie to oneself sometimes for something so yummy, no?

This is the recipe which I adapted. I know brussels sprouts aren’t not as widely available in India – Or are not available at all. They can be substituted with anything. Some cabbage maybe, cut in to cubes – Very similar flavors and texture. You would just need the crisp part of the cabbage. The original recipe had some reviews that this recipe might be a bit bland, so I added some basil leaves when I was browning the butter. That resulted in nice crispy leaves. I also used whatever pasta I had available. But dry pastas don’t flavor well with Penne which is for a more saucier pasta. I skipped the Parmesan because I didn’t want to overshadow the flavor of the brown butter. Also, skimp on the extra salt if using salted butter. 

Make this. Thank me later.

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Brown Butter-ed Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Red Pepper
Nutty flavors and crispy vegetables. A dry salad-y pasta. Serves 2, if using as a side or 1, if serving as a main
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Ingredients
  1. 2 fistfuls of any pasta, I used Spirali
  2. 1 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, sliced
  4. 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  5. 2 cups of Brussels Sprouts, cut into quarters
  6. 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  7. 1/4 cup water
  8. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  9. 3-4 basil leaves, shredded
  10. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and keep aside.

  2. Heat olive oil in a pan, add onions - cook till they are translucent. Add the garlic, Brussels Sprouts, Red Bell pepper and give it a light stir. Add the water along with salt and pepper. Let the vegetables cook till crisp tender, about 10-15 minutes. Keep in mind that the final pasta is not supposed to be watery - I suggest adding just enough water for the vegetables to cook and the water to evaporate completely. Add the pasta to the vegetables Keep warm.

  3. While the vegetables are cooking, cook the butter in a small saucepan (I used one of those bowls made for tadkas) over medium heat, swirling the pan. Just as the butter starts to change color, add the basil leaves and continue swirling until it is browned. Add the butter to the pasta mixture and toss well. Add more salt and pepper according to taste.

  4. Serve warm.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine | 1992
Cinnamon Chimney http://www.cinnamonchimney.com/
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