Mom on the Run: Brown-butter pasta

Advocate staff photo by BETH COLVINOrdinary butter is kicked up with browning, black olives and garlic in this simple yet sensational pasta dish. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BETH COLVINOrdinary butter is kicked up with browning, black olives and garlic in this simple yet sensational pasta dish.

A brief history of Colvin Valentine’s dinners reveals some spectacular flops.

The time we broke out that wedding-present fondue set, we ended up with mostly raw meat, a singed napkin and a cheese brick.

Steaks sent to the broiler after rain spoiled the day for grilling, only to have the splattering beef fat set off a fire alarm, which lead to hilarity and, eventually, very expensive bits of steaky charcoal.

Dogs that devoured boxes of chocolate (hello, emergency vet).

It’s a good thing we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

This year, I strived for an easy, uncomplicated meal that was still tasty and special, even with a 3-year-old tacked on.

The menu’s not completely planned yet, but the main course will definitely be this fantastically savory, deliciously salty brown butter pasta dish.

At the outset, trendy brown butter sounds intimidating, but with proper heat regulation, it’s a snap.

I use a good, heavy saucepan that conducts and holds heat reliably.

After heating it over medium heat, I drop in a full stick of butter and let the pan do its work.

In just a few minutes, I have a nutty-smelling sauce that’s just starting to brown, a perfect time for adding flavors. I’m a huge olive fan, so garlic and black olives were a must. I’m also a fan of simplicity, so I pretty much stopped there.

The result was a show-stopping sauce that the whole family enjoyed. Depending on the pasta you choose, it can also make for a gorgeous presentation.

I’ve been using three-cheese tortellini, but for my two Valentines, I’m thinking of going with a gnocchi or a butternut squash ravioli.

Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at bcolvin@theadvocate.com