c/o bonappetit.com

c/o bonappetit.com

On Saturday morning, my friend Sophie Gilbert  ’23 and I decided to do something special. We decided to cook. The plan was simple: create a giant bowl of pasta. In the Clark kitchen. With communal pots and pans provided by ResLife. And lots of butter. 

This idea was spawned by a website link, which Sophie sent to me a couple of days ago. At the time, I was sitting in Olin, mourning the fact that there was a palpable lack of brown butter in my life. Then, as if she had read my mind, Sophie texted me a recipe from the Bon Appétit website for pasta with brown butter, whole lemon and parmesan. Salivating, I replied, “What if we made this, this weekend?” She responded quickly, in all capitals, “YES!”

From then on, a dream was born. Soon after, it became an excuse to cook for a group of our friends, as both of us were thrilled to share our love for cooking with those who possessed a love of eating.

Sophie has a particular affinity for Stew Leonard’s, a special grocery store native to the tri-state area, so we decided to go there in order to get the necessary ingredients. After seeing the many swinging animatronic animals and experiencing the delicious ice cream for which Stew Leonard’s is well-known, we departed for our second location: Goodwill. There, we successfully secured our utensils as well as some good sweaters and dorm decor. Finally, we were ready to make the pasta. 

All of us who like to cook on campus are painfully aware that the dorm kitchens can sometimes be lacking. But in this case, the Clark kitchen served our purposes incredibly well. As we began prepping, we quickly realized that we were missing a few key utensils—namely a serrated knife—needed to cut the lemons. The recipe had to be modified to accommodate this change. 

However, as we danced around the kitchen to “La Javanaise” by Serge Gainsbourg, our friends professed their love for our experimental pasta, proclaiming it as some of the best they had eaten in a long time.


Improvised Brown Butter Mac and Cheese

Inspired by “Pasta With Brown Butter, Whole Lemon, and Parmesan” from Bon Appétit 

Sometimes, when life gives you lemons, you should stop trying to cut them with a butter knife. I know we’re college students, but it won’t work. Instead, adapt to the situation by combining a deep-seated love for brown butter with wild improvisation. And don’t forget to trust your palette! You above everyone else know what you like, so don’t be afraid to experiment with a touch of acidity or a sprinkle of salt (Maldon if you have it – please and thank you!). 

Servings: 6-8 People



2 lbs. of pasta (we recommend rigatoni)

16 Tbsp. of unsalted butter

2 oz. of finely grated parmesan (plus more for serving)

Juice of ½ a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Set aside approximately 1.5 cups of pasta water before draining.
  2. Melt butter over medium low heat in a medium saucepan, keeping a close eye and swirling occasionally. Immediately remove from the heat when butter has observable brown flecks and gives off a nutty aroma.
  3. Continuing to use the same saucepan, whisk together parmesan and the remaining pasta water, adding a little at a time and alternating between the two. The sauce should be creamy and when the whisk is lifted, at something of a “ribbon consistency.” Remember: don’t stop whisking because this is an emulsion and it will break if you’re not careful! It will still be tasty, but the cheese will separate from the butter.
  4. Season cheese sauce with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
  5. Toss pasta with prepared sauce until coated.
  6. Serve and enjoy!


Annika Shiffer-Delegard can be reached at ashifferdele@wesleyan.edu.