Butter is a wonderful thing. A knob to finish off any pasta sauce will give a silky, shiny result. But burnt butter is something else. It takes these cherry tomatoes to a wonderfully nutty and intense place. The hazelnuts top off this nutty ride, but you can leave them out if you prefer.
- 35 g hazelnuts
- 80 g salted butter
- 500 g cherry tomatoes, halved,
- smaller ones left whole
- 4 oregano sprigs, leaves picked 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped sea salt
- handful of grated Parmigiano
- Reggiano, plus extra to serve
FRESH PASTA FOR 2
strozzapreti, linguine, tagliatelle
DRIED PASTA FOR 2
fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced.
Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for about 10 minutes or until the hazelnuts are lightly toasted and the skins have started to crack. Tip the hazelnuts onto a clean tea towel and use the tea towel to rub and remove the skins (I find the skins to be too bitter, but this step is, of course, optional). Roughly chop the hazelnuts and set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over medium–high heat, then add the butter and let it melt. Once it starts to spit and splatter, reduce the heat to medium–low and give the butter a gentle stir. After about 4–5 minutes, the butter will start to turn a deep brown and smell nutty.
Add the tomato and oregano and cook for 5 minutes. Once the tomato has started to release its juice, add the garlic and season with salt. Adding the garlic now stops it burning from the shock of the hot butter. Let it simmer and mingle together for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a lively boil and season as salty as the sea. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) of the cooking water.
Toss the pasta through the tomato mixture, along with the Parmigiano Reggiano and half the pasta cooking water to loosen the whole thing up, adding more water if needed. Give the mixture a strong stir to create a sauce that’s glossy and impossibly creamy, clinging to each and every strand.
Serve topped with the roasted hazelnuts and a last-minute snowfall of Parmigiano Reggiano.