This is the fifty-third installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!
Inspired by his father and Italian roots, my dad has always had a passion for gardening and growing his own food. In our apartment, my dad has his own unconventional tactic to accomplish this goal: a terrace full of little green plants—his very own garden. He grows basil and tomatoes among other fresh herbs and vegetables, filling our terrace with pleasant herbal scents and vibrant colors of ripe vegetables. His prized plants were always the herbs, which we use for dinners nightly. In the fall and winter, a sprinkle of fresh, home-grown sage makes all the difference.
Full of vitamins, with lots of nutritional value, sage comes in many types: culinary sage, garden sage, common sage, and dalmatian sage. Sage has a unique savory yet sweet, peppery flavor that heightens the flavor of many dishes. Native to the Mediterranean, sage has been considered an essential herb in Britain for generations. Due to its origins, sage often appears in European cuisine. However, we know from its use in American Thanksgiving stuffing, Chinese herbal teas, British casseroles and sausages, and as an accompaniment for French roasts and shellfish recipes, it is clear sage is a diverse herb- important to many cultures.
In Italy, sage is an essential herb in many traditional dishes. Sage is critical when making Italian tomato and cream based sauces, as it adds a strong aroma and earthy flavor. Sage is the perfect herb to add a sophisticated, savory flavor to any dish. This green herb especially complements robust dishes involving pork, squash, and creamy pasta. Sage also pairs well with brown butter, forming an iconic combination perfect for indulgent pasta dinners. Thus, this Italian pasta recipe is the ideal recipe, combining these delectable ingredients.
I’m sharing my dad’s recipe for sage pasta, where the brown butter sage sauce is the star. This dish involves warm, tender pumpkin ravioli deliciously coated in a flavorful, aromatic sauce. It is the perfect, cozy recipe for the fall weather.
- 1 stick high-quality European butter (Kerry Gold, for example, because there is less moisture in these, so they are richer), cut into small pieces
- 1-2 handfuls walnuts or pecans, chopped
- 15 fresh sage leaves
- ½-1 tablespoons cinnamon or nutmeg
- Tortellini or ravioli, cheese-filled or pumpkin-filled
- Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pork sausage (optional)
Start by placing butter onto a pan, melting the pieces over low heat, stirring it occasionally to prevent hot spots. For best results, I recommend using a heavy pan, as it distributes the heat evenly. All the moisture will gradually evaporate from the butter, forming a brown buttery foam. Roast the nuts in the pan until they become golden.
Next, add the sage to the pan. It is important to add the sage at the beginning of the cooking process so that its strong flavor becomes a staple to the recipe. Continue to stir the mixture for about five minutes. The sage should become crumbly and crispy. The key to ensuring the sage becomes crispy is to remove some of the sage from the butter, setting it aside until the very end so that you can add it as a crunchy garnish. That way, the sauce and the sage will share the same flavorful and aromatic elements. Now, add your choice of cinnamon or nutmeg removing the pan from heat.
In a pot, boil water and cook the pasta of your choice for about six minutes or until it is al dente. We recommend a pumpkin ravioli to complement the seasonal flavor, but cheese-filled ones will be delicious as well. Remove the pasta from the water before adding it to the pan with the brown butter sauce. Give it a toss so that the brown butter brown sauce is evenly distributed.
Now, it’s time to plate the dish! Top the pasta off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh cracked pepper, and a few extra leaves of crispy sage.
This particular dish tastes great with sausage if you want to add an extra savory touch. Due to the butterfat, it is rich and hearty, making it perfect for the cold weather. Enjoy this recipe with your loved ones on a cozy night in this season— it is the flavor of fall!
Cover photo courtesy of Maya Floreani.