This recipe only has 5 ingredients, not counting salt and pepper. And it uses two of my favorite kitchen tools; the garlic press and silicone spatula. My garlic press has two sections, so I can mince or slice garlic, which is great for quick prepping. I don’t know about you, but I use my garlic press many times a week. The poor ol’ garlic press is much maligned by chefs across the world as an unnecessary, one-trick-pony that just takes up space in a kitchen drawer.
But, heck, I am not a chef, and I don’t spend all day, every day, practicing my knife skills. So I don’t feel that using a garlic press is beneath me. Besides, how much room can a garlic press take? Personally, I think mincing garlic with a knife is time consuming and not much fun. Using a garlic press makes life easier and cooking more enjoyable. So there.
Many reliable cooking sources (like Fine Cooking, Food52, Cooks Illustrated, the Kitchn) agree with me and recommend using a garlic press because:
- The press creates a better garlic flavor because it breaks down the cloves more fully, releasing more garlic flavor and producing a fine purée.
- Most people can’t tell the difference between “properly minced” garlic and pressed garlic.
- With a good garlic press, you don’t have to stop and peel the cloves.
- It’s just quicker.
I guess it is time to climb off my soap box and present some favorite recipes that use a garlic press. My favorite non-recipe is the ultimate, simple, I-need-an-appetizer-in-a-hurry recipe of good olive oil and minced garlic in a bowl surrounded by toast or baguette slices. Easy, quick, and yummy!
But the pasta dish in the photo above is a favorite recipe that accentuates garlic goodness without being overwhelming. The type of pasta makes a difference here. You need something with twists or ridges to get crispy edges, and soft crevices to hold the light but buttery garlic sauce.
I usually boil the pasta before making the sauce, and let it sit in the drainer, above the pasta water, so it stays warm. Then I can concentrate on the brown butter sauce without worrying about burning the butter.
When making brown butter, I realize how much I appreciate another favorite kitchen tool—the silicone spatula. My friend Tony (who was working in a busy restaurant at the time) brought me one and stated, “You’re gonna love this!” He was right. Now I have quite a few, courtesy of my son Karl, who frequently sneaks them into my Christmas stocking.
I love the fact that a silicone spatula can withstand remarkably high temperatures and won’t melt if you need to continually stir something at high heat. That makes it perfect for this recipe.
Making brown butter is not difficult; you just need to keep your eye on it for a short time. The simple technique of cooking the butter a little past the melting point makes the milk solids brown and exudes a wonderful nutty aroma.
Slice the butter so it melts evenly, then cook it until it foams up. Stir it continually until you see some little brown flecks, then an even golden color. Pour it into a bowl right away to stop the cooking and set it aside while you continue with the recipe, and skim off any foam.
Return all but one tablespoon of the brown butter to the skillet and pour the drained pasta over top. Stir to mix the butter all through the pasta, then let it sit for about two minutes without stirring. Stir the pasta, flipping it over to uncover some nice, browned pieces, and stir in the garlic. Let it sit again for a couple of minutes, then remove it to the bowl with the remaining butter.
After pouring some of the pasta water back in to deglaze the pan, add the kale and cook it for about 3 minutes. You may need to add more water to keep the kale from sticking. Return everything back to the pan, and sprinkle with parmesan before serving.
GARLICKY BROWN BUTTER PASTA WITH KALE
- 1 lb. whole grain rotini, fusilli, radiatori or gemelli pasta
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lb. kale, veins removed and shredded
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously season with salt. Cook pasta according to al dente package directions less 1 minute. Stir pasta well to ensure pasta is evenly cooked. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup water.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter. Using a rubber spatula, keep stirring to keep milk solids toasting evenly, about 5 minutes. Watch closely while stirring constantly as the butter can burn quickly. Once butter is golden brown color, remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Skim off any foam.
Return skillet to medium heat. Add 3 tbsp of the brown butter, plus salt and pepper to the skillet. Pour in drained pasta and mix well to ensure all pasta is coated in butter. To create a crispy golden texture, wait to stir pasta until edges of the turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir and fry pasta again on the other side for 2 minutes, adding the garlic at this time. Return the cooked pasta to the large mixing bowl with balance of brown butter.
Pour add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water into the pan to deglaze. Add the kale and sauté for 3 minutes. Add more pasta water if needed to keep the kale from sticking to the pan. Return pasta to the pan, mix it all thoroughly and warm it through. Sprinkle the cheese over top.
Modified from Delish.com recipe for Crispy Brown Butter Gemelli with Shredded Kale