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Brown Butter Pasta with Lemon and Anchovies

Brown Butter Pasta with Lemon and Anchovies

A simple recipe that is so satisfying with bright acidity from lemons, salty anchovies, and rich butter to coat the spaghetti.

Brown Butter Pasta with Lemon and Anchovies

There are a few food items that I love to call my own. Cauliflower is one of them, as are mangoes, truffles and liver. They’re things that are exclusively mine, in this household.

Meaning? Well, the better half isn’t a great fan of them. This generally means that I don’t eat them as often, but when I do, I seem to enjoy them much more.

Brown Butter Pasta with Lemon and Anchovies

When I feel like treating myself to a delicious lunch at home, or dinner for one when the house is all mine, I tend to gorge on the things that are all mine.

Take this anchovy pasta I’ve made. It has a butter sauce that’s very similar to a dish that I made during my apprenticeship 25 years ago. Geez, 25 years. Only difference is that it was spooned over charred fillet steak. I seriously love it.

It’s so quick to make and it satisfies me every time. And somehow I always make more than one portion, which is fine, because I’m ok with left-overs.

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Not only are the anchovies the big hero in this spaghetti dish, but fresh lemon is pretty much a requirement. Anchovies are undoubtedly like a slap to the palate, so a bit of acid helps balance things out. Charred lemon works wonders, but I also like to throw in some capers or brined artichoke hearts, as well.

Brown Butter Pasta with Lemon and Anchovies

John Bek
5 from 1 vote
Course Pasta, Primi
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 servings


  • 2 cheeks of lemon
  • 4 tbsp ¼ cup butter
  • 1 x 55 g tin 2 oz anchovies*
  • ¼ cup capers or artichoke hearts
  • spaghetti cooked al dente (about 120g, uncooked)
  • parsley or chives, chopped


  • To char the lemon, heat a pan over high heat. Lay the lemon cut side down and cook until slightly blackened. Turn heat down to medium-high, remove lemon and set it aside.
  • Place the butter and anchovies into the same pan. As the butter melts, use a fork to break up the anchovy fillets to help them dissolve into the butter.
  • Toss in the capers or artichoke and allow to cook until the butter turns a golden brown colour, swirling to help it colour evenly. As soon as this happens, turn off the heat, toss in the cooked spaghetti and mix vigorously to coat. Mix through the parsley or chives.
  • Serve immediately with a good squeeze of the charred lemon.


Depending on your love of anchovies, use as much or as little as you desire. I use a whole 55g tin and a small amount of its oil.


View Comment (1)
  • 5 stars
    What a memorable and unique recipe. I find it so romantic in a masculine way that you would enjoy this home alone. What adult beverage would accompany? I am inspired! I googled this after seeing a similar recipe at an Italian restaurant served with asparagus. I’d be curious to hear of some of your wildly culturall dishes. Thanks!

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