Sage is one of those underrated ingredients, but today I am making it the star of the show with the help of a stick of butter. Often sage is used for holiday meals or used as decoration, but I love its distinct floral and aromatic flavor. It is often paired with brown butter and after making this dish you will know why. It is simple, flavorful and draws you in with its autumnal scent. I like to keep it simple and toss it into some squid ink pasta and sprinkle some toasted hazelnuts, Parmesan and sea salt on top. But you can create additional layers of flavor and texture by adding roasted pumpkin or squash, sausage or pancetta, and maybe a dollap of ricotta on top.
I went for some extra Halloween flair by using this Squid Ink Strozzapretti, but I also like using orecchiette or rigatoni. These shapes really catch the sauce well. And it's all about that beautiful toasty brown butter. If you haven't made brown butter before, it's a cinch to make and a game changer. My favorite part is dropping in the sage leaves at the end so they fry up nice and crispy and infuse the butter with their flavor.
This is a delicious pasta dish you can enjoy all fall and winter. So hearty, simple and transforms your weekday pasta meal into something special!
BROWN BUTTER SAGE PASTA
1 pound dried pasta
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 equal pieces
14-16 sage leaves, washed and patted dry
1/4 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Place the drained, cooked pasta back into the cooking pot and set aside. For the brown butter, place the butter pieces into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat and swirl the pan occasionally so the butter will cook evenly. The total cooking process will take about 8 minutes. The butter will begin to foam, then smell nutty and brown specks with appear at the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on the butter so it doesn't burn. Turn off the heat and drop in the sage leaves. It will take about a minute for them to crisp up depending in their size. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the butter and sage leaves over the cooked pasta. Return the pot to the stovetop and cook over medium low heat. Add the pasta water and cook just until a sauce is formed and the pasta is evenly coated. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and sprinkle the hazelnuts, Parmesan and sea salt over the top. Serve immediately.
To make the dish heartier, add in 1 pound roasted pumpkin or butternut squash.
Browned sausage or crispy pancetta make nice additions too.
Finish with a dollop of ricotta and serve with a nice glass of red wine and crusty bread.