This Spinach Bucatini with Brown Butter, Hazelnuts and Breadcrumbs is simplicity at its finest. Chewy strands of homemade spinach-infused bucatini are coated in a super simple brown butter and starchy pasta water sauce, tossed with crispy homemade breadcrumbs, nutty hazelnuts and sharp parmesan cheese.
Despite a pasta section bursting with creative recipes and updated twists on classics, sometimes there’s something to be said about simplicity. When you’re working with high-quality ingredients and making everything from scratch, things don’t need to be complicated to taste good. In fact, sometimes the more you complicate things, the more muddled the flavors become.
This simplicity notion rings true for countless foods, but I find it’s almost always the case when it comes to homemade pasta. Since fresh pasta is so delicate in and of itself, it doesn’t really need a whole lot to make it shine, and boy does today’s Spinach Bucatini with Brown Butter, Hazelnuts and Breadcrumbs shine.
Chewy strands of homemade spinach-infused bucatini are coated in a super simple brown butter and starchy pasta water sauce, tossed with crispy homemade breadcrumbs, nutty hazelnuts and sharp parmesan cheese. It’s a pasta dish that looks unassuming at first glance, but with each bite, you’re pulled in further, until you look down, and there are only a few scattered flecks of breadcrumbs gracing the bottom of your bowl.
I finally made homemade pasta again a few months ago after a nearly yearlong hiatus, and now it’s something I try to tackle bi-weekly. I’ve basically got the process down to a science, and can produce freshly made pasta strands all within Teddy’s afternoon nap. Since the food processor helps to make the process pretty effortless, that’s how I roll these days. In today’s case, spinach, flour and salt go in, it’s buzzed a few times until the spinach is flecked into the flour and then a mixture of whole eggs and egg yolks is drizzled in.
Once the dough comes together, it rests, and if you’re like me and have a toddler that tears your house apart, you frantically try to make your home look like a tornado hasn’t hit it while the gluten works its magic.
When the resting process is complete, the pasta is fed through the extruder (I use this one ), dusted with flour, formed into nests and ready to go whenever.
Because simplicity is key here, brown butter serves two purposes, first, to crisp the breadcrumbs and hazelnuts, and second, as the nutty sauce that coats each strand of pasta. A little bit of starchy pasta water, along with a heavy hand of parmesan is also added to the mix, and after a toss with the cooked bucatini noodles, and a quick seasoning check, this simple pasta is ready to shine.
- 5 oz. baby spinach
- 3 cups flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 Tbsp. butter
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (see note)
- 4 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts
- ½ tsp. salt dived
- 1 cup parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
- Fill a medium bowl with ice water.
- Add ½ cup of water to a large pot. Add spinach in and turn the heat on medium. Toss the spinach with tongs until completely wilted. Transfer to ice water. Remove spinach from water, getting as much water out as possible. Place spinach in a dish towel and ring out any remaining moisture.
- Add spinach, flour and salt to the bottom of a food processor. Pulse until the spinach is completely incorporated in to the flour and salt.
- In a measuring cup, whisk together eggs, yolks and olive oil.
- While you pulse the flour and spinach mixture, slowly add in the egg mixture. Keep pulsing and adding the mixture until it's all combined and the a ball of dough forms.
- Transfer the dough on to a floured surface and knead for 7-8 minutes. Wrap in plastic and let rest at room temperature for 1 hr.
- Once your ready to make the dough, fit your stand mixer with the pasta attachment fitted with the bucatini extruder.
- Cut off a walnut-sized piece of dough and feed it through the mixer, feed another piece through, then again. Once the bucatini is 12 inches, use the wire to cut it off. Dust with flour and wait until another 12 inch batch comes through. Dust with flour again and combine the 8 stands of dough. Place in a nest on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season liberally with salt.
- In a large sauce pan, heat two tablespoons of butter over a medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to turn brown, swirl the pan until the butter smells nutty and is a deep brown. Turn the heat down to medium and add breadcrumbs. Toss until the breadcrumbs are coated in the butter and then add hazelnuts and ¼ tsp of salt. Cook (and stir frequently to prevent from burning) the breadcrumbs and hazelnuts until the crumbs are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a plate and wipe the pan clean.
- Gently add bucatini to the boiling pasta water. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the pasta still has a slight bite to it.
- While the pasta cooks, add the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter to the same large saute pan. Turn the heat on medium-high. Once the butter begins to brown, swirl the pan until it becomes very nutty and a deep brown color. Once the butter is browned, turn the heat down to a medium-low and use tongs to transfer the pasta to the butter. Add ½ cup of starchy, salty pasta water. Toss pasta, water and butter. Add parmesan cheese. If necessary, add more pasta water to create a sauce.
- Add ¾ of breadcrumbs and remaining salt. Toss to combine.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs. Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese.