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)
22 minutes ago