I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Pasta Butter Balls

One lazy evening, on a desperate-for-dinner freezer scrounge, I came across a half used log of frozen herbed butter – a beurre composée if you will.  I like to make these with the summer glut of herbs and roll them into waxed paper wrapped logs.  This butter has myriad uses, but I mostly use it for grilling.  When you have a really good piece of meat, simply grilled, it doesn’t need too much messing with.  A little pat of herby butter on top is just the right finishing touch – to a steak, a burger, pork chops, chicken.

On this particular night, hungry, grumpy and lazy, I grabbed the small butter log, boiled up some pasta and stirred in the compound butter.  Perfect! This became a regular on my lazy menu.  When I make up a compound butter, I take a little extra and wrap it up alone for use on pasta.  When I have folks over for grilled food, I put aside a little butter for a pasta dinner the next night.  You know – after company when you can’t be bothered to dirty up more dishes or slave over the stove.

Making meatballs for the freezer inspired the butter ball concept.  Forming little balls, freezing separately, then tossing in a bag.  I portion these with my medium sized cookie scoop, which I’d say is about 2 Tablespoons, and keep them in a freezer bag.  One ball is enough for a good serving of pasta.  If you make pasta for more than one, just pull out as many balls as you need, adding them one at a time until you hit the jackpot. Thawed out, this is also a great spread for garlic bread.  If your are feeling industrious, double or triple the recipe.

Pasta Butter Balls

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon salt

6 large fresh basil leaves

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

2 Tablespoons fresh parsley leaves

1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest

½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Several grinds of black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

8 ounces (2 sticks) best quality butter, room temperature

Place the garlic cloves and salt in the bowl of a small food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Drop in the torn basil leaves, oregano leaves, and parsley.  Pulse several times, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally until finely chopped.  Add the lemon zest, parmesan, pepper and salt and pulse until finely chopped and well combined.  The mix should look like soft breadcrumbs.  Add the butter in pieces and blend until thoroughly combined.  Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and break up any large butter chunks.

(This can absolutely be done by hand, just finely chop the garlic with the salt and then add the herbs and zest and chop finely.  Stir the pepper, salt and butter together in a bowl, using a fork to mash everything together).

Line a plate or baking sheet with waxed paper and set aside.  Using two spoons or a cookie scoop, make balls from the butter and place on the lined baking sheet.  Freeze until hard, at least 2 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag or container.  These will keep in the freezer for up to six months.

To use, cook pasta as normal, drain and reserve a little of the cooking water.  Put the pasta back in the pot and stir in the desired number of butter balls, one at a time, until melted.  Drizzle in a little cooking liquid to loosen the pasta.

Makes about 10 balls

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9 comments to Pasta Butter Balls

  • Beyond brilliant. Love it!

  • Sarah

    Great idea adding the parmesan. I’m going to try this next time I have leftover herbs.

  • Yes – these are also good to make when you have those packets of herbs lingering in the fridge.

  • Paige

    the balls are genius. I tend not to use my compound butter because I hate trying to hack off a reasonable size chunk of the stuff. (how can something be both ultra slippery to hold and impossible to cut all at the same time?)

  • Jean P.

    I agree, this is genius. Once again, you have me scratching my head asking myself. “Why didn’t I think of this?” Simple and perfect for a quick dinner on a lazy night. Thanks for the idea.

  • Great idea…and perfect timing for snipping herbs before they all go to seed……ps. hope all is well Jane

  • GoodCookin

    I love this idea! I just made a double batch with the last of the herbs growing in my garden. I spread a little on a cracker and it was great! I am so glad I will have these in my freezer now that fall is getting so busy.

  • Green4me

    I chop herbs to put on pasta all the time. I’ll try this. I was getting sad that my herbs are dying.

  • Lmgkoester

    This saved our dinner last night! We didn’t have time for much more than some quick noodles, and we had a packet of chive/garlic butter in the freezer from a few weeks ago. I never would have thought to use it with the pasta until your post, but am so happy with the results!

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