Sage & Brown Butter Pasta with Hazelnuts
Brown Butter Pasta Bliss
There are lots of recipes for homemade ravioli on the interwebs; tender, hand rolled, impressively stuffed and formed little pillows of pasta perfection.
This is not that. This is, it’s Thursday evening. You’re hungry, maybe even hangry. It’s a chilly, Fall day, and you want something cozy and comforting with minimal fuss. All dinner contenders must call for equal or less prep time than a frozen pizza.
This pasta, bathed in a simple, glorious sage and brown butter sauce, which I would happily eat every day for the rest of Fall/Winter, is so much better than that in just about every way, and happens to be on the table in about twenty minutes.
Starring golden, nutty, caramel-flecked brown butter, infused with fresh sage, and topped with a generous dusting of Parmesan and crunchy, buttery hazelnuts, this dish elevates store-bought ravioli like you wouldn’t believe, and is deliciously easy on a weeknight.
About the Recipe
Let’s talk about browned butter, that tawny-hued, magical ingredient…
Brown butter is simply butter that has been cooked beyond its melting point. The milk solids brown and caramelize, creating tons of complex, nutty flavor. It’s super easy to make, though timing is important.
You’ll need a large, wide skillet. I like to use a light-colored stainless skillet, to more easily monitor the butter’s transformation. This is especially key if you’re a brown butter novice.
After melting, as the butter continues to cook, it will begin to foam. This foam is made up of milk solids. At this point, you’ll start to stir the butter continuously. After a couple of minutes, the foam will begin to dissipate, and the butter will begin to bubble, and clarify. Keep stirring until you notice small golden flecks forming at the bottom of the pan. These are those milk solids again, browning and imparting lots of umami.
At this point, you should notice the butter giving off a fragrant, nutty aroma. You’ll want to watch the butter carefully at this point, as brown can go to black and burnt very quickly. As soon as the butter reaches a golden chestnut hue, pull the skillet off of the heat, but continue whisking. The heat of the pan will continue to cook the butter, so we don’t want to leave it on too long, and miss that relatively short window of brown butter perfection.
After a quick toss of the pasta to coat and soak up all that sublime, rich butter flavor, and an ample sprinkling of Parmesan and hazelnuts, your indulgent, flavorful, simple dinner is served!
Want more brown butter pasta in your life? Try this version with toasted herbed breadcrumbs!Print
- 8 oz ravioli (or pasta of choice)
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
- 6–8 small sage leaves
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
- freshly-grated black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and sage and let cook in the melted butter for a minute or two, then turn the heat up to medium.
- Begin whisking continuously when the butter begins to foam, until golden flecks start to form in the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes. Once this happens, the butter will darken quickly, so keep a careful watch to ensure that the butter doesn’t burn.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and continue whisking for another minute or so until the butter is a rich amber color with a fragrant, nutty aroma. If not using immediately for the pasta, transfer the brown butter to a different container to stop the cooking process.
- Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet, and stir to combine, coating evenly with the brown butter. Toss with the Parmesan and hazelnuts, and season with freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Divide among bowls. Serve warm.
I used fresh sage leaves, but feel free to substitute with 1/2 tsp dried sage.