Long ago, when I lived in Oakland, Calif., there was a restaurant called Oliveto’s in my neighborhood. It sat on the corner adjacent my train stop and so became a convenient after-work haunt. My favorite dish there was a simple combination of handmade gnocchi in a sauce of fried sage leaves and brown butter — wonderfully comforting at the end of a long winter’s workday.
This recipe was inspired by that deliciousness and by a recipe from food writer Moira Hodgson. She likes cream in it, but I prefer it with the sage butter alone. In fact, the sausage could go! Either way, this dish comes together in about the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta, and that, too, is comforting at the end of the day.
Noodles with Sausage and Fried Sage
1 pound fettuccine
4 mild Italian sausages
About 24 sage leaves
4 to 5 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan
1. Bring four quarts of water to a boil for the fettuccine and cook it per instructions, until al dente.
2. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, simmer the sausages in water to cover for 10 minutes. When they are done, finish them in a little oil, cooking until they are nicely brown, and then setting aside.
2. Fry the sage leaves in the butter in a skillet until they are crisp. Drain them on paper towels, leaving the butter in the skillet.
3. Add the garlic to the butter, so that it gets golden but not burned.
4. Drain the pasta and put it in a heated serving bowl. Chop the sausage into bite size pieces and put it on top of the pasta, and then toss the whole with butter sauce and sprinkle with sage leaves, salt and pepper. (Note: You want enough butter to coat the pasta, but not so much that it becomes an oily mess.)
Parmesan can be added at the table. Enjoy!