What’s cooking today: Tagliatelle with caper butter sauce

What’s cooking today: Tagliatelle with caper butter sauce
Tony Jackman’s tagliatelle with caper butter sauce (beurre noisette with capers). (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Capers instantly add their strange allure to any dish they’re put in. A beurre noisette (burnt butter sauce) is a beautiful thing in its own right, but it can be enhanced in many ways; in this instance, capers. This is all leading up to this week’s Throwback Thursday about the two butter sauces. So stay tuned.

Here’s a Franco-Italian mixup. Following on from yesterday’s recipe for lamb ravioli with rosemary beurre noisette sauce, here’s a variation of it that discards the rosemary and adds capers instead. There’s a bit of France in the sauce for my favourite style of Italian pasta, tagliatelle.

A rich buttery sauce is a marvellous match for pasta. It gets soaked up, the pasta attains a luscious finish, and it dances a tarantella on your palate.

Beurre noisette does not skimp on the butter, so just get over that aspect of things. As you’ll read in my Throwback Thursday piece to follow, butter has health benefits that even made the cover of Time magazine a decade ago.


250 g tagliatelle


200g salted butter

8 capers, chopped

Half a lemon

A little white pepper, if you like


This will look familiar if you’ve read yesterday’s recipe. The difference is in the capers.

Put the butter in a saucepan and put it on a moderate heat. Let it cook slowly until the butter starts to foam beautifully. Slowly, slowly, it will start to turn a pale brown at the top. Drop the capers in around about now. 

Let this browning develop until it is at that whimsical point between yellow and burnt; neither too pale nor too dark. You will smell a whiff of hazelnut (which is what noisette means). 

Grab the half lemon and squeeze it in. This arrests the browning instantly. (Another way is to plunge the lower part of the pot into iced water.) Turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of salted, rapidly boiling water. Drain.

Add the pasta back to the pan and immediately pour the beurre noisette caper sauce in. Toss through with a pasta spoon and serve immediately. You can add grated Parmesan if you like, but it doesn’t necessarily need it. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

This dish is photographed in a bowl by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.


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