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Lemon Pasta with Brown Butter, Almonds and Arugula

Cook Time:
10 mins
Prep Time:
15 mins

Chef notes

Brown butter, crunchy almonds and tangy lemon make a rich but balanced sauce for this pantry-friendly pasta. The arugula lends freshness and rounds out the pasta, turning this into a quick one-pot meal. If you want to increase the vegetables, you can double the arugula. (Just add a little more lemon juice.) Don't stint on the red pepper flakes; their spiciness helps bring together the flavors.

Swap option: If you don't have baby (or wild) arugula on hand, spinach or baby kale are fine, though slightly milder, substitutes.

This recipe was reprinted with permission from NYT Cooking.


  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more for garnish
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, more as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces coarsely chopped baby arugula (about 5 cups)
  • grated Parmesan, for serving



Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until it is 1 minute shy of being al dente, usually a minute or 2 less than the package instructions. (It will continue to cook in the residual heat of the pot.) Scoop out about 1½ cups pasta water (a large coffee mug is good for this), then drain pasta.


While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the foam subsides, the milk solids turn golden-brown and it smells nutty and toasty, 3 to 4 minutes. (Watch carefully to see that it doesn't burn.)


Stir in almonds, rosemary and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are toasted and slightly darker in color, about 1 minute.


Add drained pasta, lemon juice and zest, salt and a large pinch of black pepper to skillet and about 1 cup of the pasta water. Add arugula and toss well to coat the pasta. Simmer to thicken the sauce until it's thick and glossy, adding more pasta water by the tablespoon as needed, about 1 minute longer.


Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese and more red pepper flakes, if you'd like.