Sage advice

This time, it was the sage.

I’ve been struggling with sage for years, trying without much success to grow it in pots. It limped along, never looking very convincing.

Then I saw a healthy one in a friend’s garden. It was glorious! This huge, flower-covered, fantastic herb bush. I had deep herb envy.

planter
The sage is still small, but it’s vigorous enough now to fight off the rampant nasturtiums.

sageI had come across this wonderful-looking recipe that required a handful of sage leaves, and my pathetic plant with its tiny leaves was incapable of providing even half of it. I’d long run out of room to plant anything like that in my inner-city garden, and it looked like I was doomed to having to raid friends’ gardens. Or, gasp, get some from the supermarket.

When the opportunity came for our street to get council planter boxes, I knew immediately what was going in it.

For the whole of this long winter, my sad little sage plant sat there in its new home. Waiting.

Finally, last week, I saw that it was big enough to be harvested. And this wonderful, classic vegetarian dish was first cab off the rank. This version is based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe in Plenty More, but it is a classic dish with many versions.

The revelation in this dish is the walnuts, which are completely transformed by the roasting process. I use them in all kinds of things now.

The fresh sage in the butter. A heavenly smell.
The fresh sage in the butter. A heavenly smell.

Walnut and sage pasta

60g walnuts. Break them up roughly (I run a rolling pin over them) and put them in a 160C oven for 15 minutes. Don’t let them burn.

Cook your pasta. This dish is meant for tagliatelle, but it works with most.

ready to be tossed with the pasta.
Ready to be tossed with the pasta. 

In a frying pan:
30g butter, heated gently for a minute first
10g sage leaves (or more if you love sage), finely shredded, let cook for 2 minutes until butter starts to brown
grated zest of a medium lemon
2-3 tbs cream. (This time,  I substituted 1 1/2 tbs of  creme fraiche, just because that’s what I had in the fridge and I didn’t have time for a trip to the shop for cream. It worked, though it was less creamy)
salt
black pepper, then cook a minute
the walnuts
50g shaved parmesan
10g chopped parsley

Then mix it with the pasta.

The rest of our meal was some confit duck and a fresh green salad.

Verdict: Utterly delicious.

 

Corinna Hente

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