Jennifer Garner’s latest episode of #PretendCookingShow on Instagram dropped a few days ago. I watched it 10 times in a row—I was so raptured by her! Here’s a two-sentence recap: In the Reel, Jennifer makes the brown butter and sage linguine that her lead character, Hannah, makes on The Last Thing He Told Me, a crime thriller mini-series. As she cooks the pasta, she narrates the scene from the TV show. Jennifer is determined to defy expectations for superfans like me, and I’m here for both the drama and the recipe.
It was close to dinnertime when I saw the Reel, so I headed to the kitchen to make the pasta for my family. A couple of hours later, the next episode of The Last Thing He Told Me dropped. Perfect timing!
How To Make Hannah’s Brown Butter and Sage Linguine
I doubled the recipe because I know most Simply Recipes readers feed families of four to six people. It’s only five ingredients if you don’t count the salt and pepper. You’ll need:
- 1 pound linguine pasta
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 12 fresh sage leaves (See note below.)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Salt and black pepper
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente, following package instructions. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sage leaves.
Note: Jennifer uses 12 sage leaves. Though I doubled her recipe, I stuck to 12 because 24 will guarantee you’ll only taste sage.
Continue stirring the butter for about 7 minutes until you see browned bits and the sage leaves look crispy. Then, stir in the lemon juice.
When the pasta is done cooking, scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water and set it aside. Drain the pasta into a colander placed in the sink. Add the drained pasta to the brown butter and use a tong to toss it in the sauce. Pour the pasta water in and continue stirring until the sauce thickens. Sprinkle in the cheese, and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve with more cheese on top.
3 Tips For Making Jennifer Garner’s 5-Ingredient Pasta
1. Salt the pasta cooking water:
For a pound of dry pasta, bring a gallon (4 quarts or 16 cups) of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of table salt to your pot. For those that use kosher salt, use 2 tablespoons of Diamond Crystal or 1 1/2 tablespoons of Morton kosher salt. With salted water—some of which you scoop out and add to the sauce to thicken it—you may not need to salt the pasta again before serving.
2. Smart timing means you’ll have dinner on the table faster:
You can make this brown butter pasta in 15 minutes if you work smart. I timed myself! Cooking the pasta takes the longest, so here’s what you do: Set the pot of water over high heat with a lid on—I promise you the lid helps the water boil faster. Now don’t wait for it to boil! Move on to making the brown butter sauce. When the water starts boiling while you make the sauce, drop the pasta in. If the sauce is ready before the pasta is done cooking, simply take it off the heat. The trick to getting dinner on the table faster is not to wait around for the water to boil and the pasta to cook.
3. Your dinner, your swaps:
Don’t love sage? Leave them out! Don’t have linguine? Any pasta shape will work. Is Parmesan too expensive? Use Grana Padano, Piave, or Pecorino Romano. Can’t do dairy? Use olive oil instead. Any of these variations will get you a heavenly bowl of pasta.
Add This Recipe to Your Weeknight Rotation
This is an ideal weeknight pasta that calls for simple pantry ingredients to create a luxurious and satisfying meal. Browning the butter—an already perfect ingredient—is an easy and smart way to upgrade its flavor. The fresh lemon juice gives the sauce an unbeatable freshness that plays nicely with the brown butter and Parmesan. It’s a recipe with measurements, but honestly, I could wing it by adding more or less of any ingredient on a whim and still end up with a delicious dinner.
I’m on a constant quest to find more weeknight dinner recipes for my repertoire, and this one’s right up my alley. Maybe I’ll even make it every Friday night to eat while watching the latest episode of The Last Thing He Told Me—a TV dinner date with Jennifer.