Saturday evening eating out in Mensanello, our neighbouring farm, is a treat. You get to eat honest food, made with their home-grown ingredients, surrounded by fields of golden wheat. As comforting as eating at home, without the hassle of dishes to wash.
Among a wooden board loaded with ripe melon slices and their prosciutto, their roasted pork sirloin and deliciously golden potatoes, we had a surprisingly good bowl of pasta with sage ragout, a three-ingredient pasta sauce which lists sage, almonds and their extra virgin olive oil as the only ingredients.
Sage. A main ingredient or just a seasoning?
Even though sage is one of the ingredients of the sacred Tuscan triad, along with garlic and rosemary, never I had before a dish that features sage as main ingredient. We use sage to season roasted meat, fish, potatoes and focaccia, we brown sage leaves in butter to drizzle over ravioli and we chop sage into stuffings. Everyone has a bush of sage growing wildly in the garden, but we rarely give it a dominant role, maybe scared by its overpowering aroma.
That’s why I was so curious when I heard that a bowl of pasta dressed with sage ragout was coming my way. It had clear rustic flavours, it was aromatic, a surprise.
A few seconds later there I was, begging for the recipe to make it again at home and share it with you.
Sage and almond ragout, a three-ingredient pasta sauce
They call it a ragout, though it is as quick to make it as boiling your pasta, even quicker. It won’t require you to cook this sauce for hours as in my grandma’s ragout.
It’s not even a pesto, as you won’t need to blend almonds and sage into a smooth sauce as you would do with basil and pine nuts for the classic pesto Genovese, or with my pistachio pesto, or the Tuscan kale pesto, or even a fresh pea pesto.
This is just the most essential three ingredient sauce for your pasta. You’ll need almonds, better if unpeeled, as this will add colour to your sauce, fresh sage for an aromatic note and your best extra virgin olive oil.
You can either chop almonds and sage with a sharp knife if you have time on your side, or simply throw them into a cutter. Hold the button until almonds and sage are finely chopped. Drizzle with olive oil, sauté for a couple of minutes, then toss in the pasta with some cooking water. Cook for two more minutes and you’re ready to bring this to the table to feed your hungry crowd.
As for the pasta, I used spelt pasta as its rustic taste perfectly complemented the sauce. Just choose your favourite pasta, though. A short shape works better than spaghetti. In Mensanello they used fresh trofie, that was another stunning combination.
- About 30 sage leaves
- 80 g of unpeeled almonds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 320 g of whole wheat or farro pasta
Wash the sage leaves, pat them dry and collect them into a cutter. Add the almonds and blend until finely chopped.
Spoon the chopped almonds and sage into a pan, drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and sauté on medium flame for about 2 minutes, then set aside.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, then drain al dente, keeping a few tablespoons of cooking water aside.
Toss the pasta into the pan with almond and sage, add the reserved cooking water and cook for a few minutes, to blend all the flavour.
Drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil and serve.
How to make it richer
Serve the pasta cold with chopped cherry tomatoes and black olives for a vegan pasta salad. If you are a garlic lover, you can sneak in a garlic clove along with sage and almonds: your pasta will smell like an Italian herb garden in summer.
Should you have a wedge of aged pecorino or Parmigiano in your fridge, go for it and grate some cheese on the pasta before tossing it into the pan. Crushed chili pepper or a few turns of black pepper will satisfy those who prefer bold flavours.
To turn this dish into a meal, think about mozzarella, burrata or ricotta. Simply tear mozzarella or burrata with your hands and add to the pasta. As for the ricotta, add a few spoonfuls and stir in to make a creamy sauce.
What to do when you have too much sage?
Usually a sage plant goes from showing a few shy leaves to taking half of your herb garden in the blink of an eye. When it happens, these recipes can help you to tame its impetuousness.
Fried sage leaves. Fried sage leaves are probably the easiest appetizer you can serve to open a summer Tuscan meal. They are usually paired with other fried goodness, such as zucchini flowers or leftover slices of stale bread. Look in your pantry: do you have flour? Beer? I guess you have water, salt and black pepper. Now you just need meaty fresh sage leaves, the biggest you can get. You’re done.
Tuscan rub salt. Whenever you want to smell a bit of Tuscany, just open the jar and use this salt as a dressing or for cooking. Essential seasoning for roasted pork (porchetta), this salt, flavoured with sage and rosemary, is perfect for seasoning a simple grilled meat – beef, chicken, turkey or pork – for roast beef, for baked fish or even for roasted potatoes.
Check also this posts on sage:
- Chocolate and zucchini, Sage Recipes: 45 Things To Do With Fresh Sage.
- Natural Living Ideas, 4 Reasons To Grow Sage & 20 Brilliant Ways To Use It
- Food and Wine, 11 Recipes to Make with the Ultimate Fall Herb: Sage
- The Guardian, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s sage recipes
2018 Saveur Blog Awards
Last year you made a magic. Our blog was selected by Saveur for their Saveur Blog Awards as finalist for the Most inspired weeknight dinners category. I had been dreaming about that day for years, since the beginning, and you helped me to realize a wild dream, to be a finalist in the most prestigious international award for food writers and food bloggers.
Let’s try to double that success: I’ll be grateful as always if you would nominate Juls’ Kitchen among your favourite food blogs also this year.
As last year, Most inspired weeknight dinners might best reflect the spirit of this blog: homey, daily and reliable recipes which make a difference and give an authentic Italian twist to your weeknight meals, since 2009. Almost ten years of blogging! Today’s pasta sauce, the baked eggplants, the stuffed eggplants, this French bean salad, or the minestrone, ot this apple cake, aren’t they the proof of it?
So if you want to cast your vote, follow this link and vote for www.julskitchen.com (you’ll need to type the address!). You have time until the 25th of July 2018. Thank you! 🙂