This dish is for when a 3 p.m. hang turns into a dinner party or when you’ve had too long of a day at work. But just because it’s comfort food doesn’t mean there aren’t techniques. They’re the same ones that go into every restaurant pasta you’ve ever loved: Salt the boiling water; cook the pasta al dente; create a silky sauce that marries pasta water, Parmesan, olive oil, and butter.

Serves 4


  • 12 oz. spaghetti or other long pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice


  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, cook garlic and ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden, about 4 minutes. 
  3. Add anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook, mashing anchovies with a wooden spoon to break them up, until anchovies begin to dissolve. About 1 minute.
  4. Add 1¼ cups pasta cooking liquid to the pot with anchovies and garlic and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. 
  5. Using tongs, add pasta to pot, 
  6. Then add butter, ¾ cup Parmesan, and lots of black pepper. 
  7. Cook, tossing energetically and adding more cooking liquid if needed.
  8. Cook until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 4 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat; add parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  10. Divide pasta among bowls; drizzle with oil and top with more Parmesan.

Originally published in Bon Appétit