Tonight is my second attempt. Do you know what it's like to crave a certain meal, only to try your hand at it not once but twice and then forget what it should actually taste like? It's quite frustrating. I might have to seek out a real Italian restaurant soon to regain the taste of it before trying again.
First time: the pasta was overpowering. Too much soft-mouth-feel, not enough sage. This was despite the fact that I used ALL the sage I bought. All of it. More than 30 leaves I bet. It wasn't quite fresh pasta, but it was "special pasta" - gourmet fettucine which really was just too overpowering for the dish. Beware the pasta which can cook in just three minutes. Clearly fresh is better, so perhaps I didn't use enough sage or brown it enough. This was late last week.
Second time (tonight): Wegmans was out of fresh sage (the idea!) so I bought powdered sage. The pasta (regular ziti) was fine but the sage flavor itself left much to be desired. Not to mention I probably did not brown the butter quite enough.
Will the third time be Just Right? There has to be a third time you know.
Here is the recipe below. I took cues from two websites. One was the NYTimes which I followed more closely.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cut pasta, like ziti
2 tablespoons butter
30 fresh sage leaves
1 cup or more freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt it. Cook pasta until it is tender, but not quite done.
2. Meanwhile, place butter in a skillet or saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta; turn heat to medium, and add sage. Cook until butter turns nut-brown and sage shrivels, then turn heat to a minimum.
3. When the pasta is just about done, scoop out a cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta. Immediately add it to the butter-sage mixture, and raise heat to medium. Add 3/4 cup of the water, and stir; the mixture will be loose and a little soupy. Cook for about 30 seconds, or until some of the water is absorbed and the pasta is perfectly done.
4. Stir in cheese; the sauce will become creamy. Thin it with a little more water if necessary. Season liberally with pepper and salt to taste, and serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table if you like.
(NUMBER NINE in 2010)
1 day ago