Friday, July 11, 2008

Pasta with Butter, Sage, and Parmesan

Pasta with Butter, Sage, and Parmesan

If you eliminate the sage, kids will love this dish. (There are homes in Italy where pasta with butter and Parmesan is the equivalent of pabulum.) But most grown-ups prefer the sharper edge that sage provides. Like many others, this sauce can be prepared in the time it takes water to boil.

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
20 or 30 fresh sage leaves or about 1 tablespoon dried whole sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound cut pasta, such as ziti or penne, or long pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the sage,salt, and pepper. Cook until the butter turns light brown, about 10 minutes.

3. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until it is tender but firm. Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water into a warm serving bowl. Drain the pasta and toss in the serving bowl with the butter, more pepper, and half the Parmesan. Pass the remaining Parmesan at the table.

Personal Note: If you make this with the dried sage, either cut back on the amount or use more butter and let it cook slowly for a bit will be bitter otherwise. You can use less bitter herbs anyway, if you have fresh ones on hand to get rid of--I've used rosemary, thyme, and basil and they all worked fine for me. It's important to lightly brown the butter--it'll give the non-sauce some dimension, a sort of nutty almost "sausage-y" flavor and aroma. Robert walked in when I made it thinking I was cooking up breakfast sausage! Some days I just want a bowl of buttery pasta with no complicated other flavors. It's like comfort food.

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