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.
- 12 oz. spaghetti or other long pasta
- 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
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.
Meanwhile, cook garlic and ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden, about 4 minutes. Add anchovies (if using) and red pepper flakes and cook, smashing anchovies with a wooden spoon to break them up, until anchovies begin to dissolve, about 1 minute.
Add 1¼ cups pasta cooking liquid to pot with anchovies and garlic and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Using tongs, add pasta to pot, then add butter, ¾ cup Parmesan, and lots of black pepper. Cook, tossing energetically and adding more cooking liquid if needed, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; add parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice.