Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. I hope you’ve been lavished with the love and appreciation I know you all deserve. I think one of the most difficult tasks as a mom is to come up with a healthy delicious meal every night for your family. Even if you’ve been blessed with adventurous eaters and don’t have food allergies to contend with, let’s face it, it’s easy to get in a rut. As my gift to you, I’ve got a few ideas for simple sauces to help you use those beautiful fresh veggies you brought home from the farmers market. Better yet, Dads & kids can whip up an easy meal for you.
My secret ingredient — brown butter. Seriously. How simple it that? So simple it really doesn’t even require a formal recipe. You may have already stumbled upon this one by letting your melted butter cook a tad too long thus caramelizing the milk solids. In those few extra moments, butter goes from sweet to savory, creamy to nutty and complex. Of course, the saucy French have been on to this for a long time with their beurre noisette (hazelnut butter, referring to the golden brown color) or one step further, beurre noir (black and bitter). Add some sage leaves and you’ve got the perfect sauce for the fresh peas that are so expensive you only want to buy a cup or so, which is all you really need if you’re making pasta.
Brown Butter with Sage
Ingredients for 4 servings of pasta sauce: 6 T unsalted butter/ 1/2 cup of small fresh sage leaves or large leaves cut into strips/ lemon wedge (optional)
Directions: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat/ Add sage leaves and cook, stirring often until butter begins to brown and the sage gives off a nutty, toasty aroma, 3 to 4 minutes/ When the butter is brown and the sage is crispy and literally melts in your mouth, remove from the heat/ At this point, some people give it a few squirts of cold lemon juice for extra flavor and to stop the cooking/ Add lightly cooked peas, asparagus, rapini, literally any tender fresh vegetable, prosciutto, parmesan cheese, chopped herbs, whatever you have on hand.
Once you have the hang of it, you can use brown butter in any recipe that calls for butter, even baked goods. You can also replace the sage with garlic and anchovies for even more depth on whole wheat pasta. I used it with some roasted rapini, bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese for a hearty pasta dinner.
If you’d rather not eat pasta, a big bowl of spinach sauteed in a simple brown butter garlic sauce can be very satisfying.
I must give credit to Melissa Clark for peaking my interest in brown butter when I noticed how many of her recipes include it. Here’s a post she wrote on the subject. I’ve also been making Jerry Traunfeld’s fettucine with sage butter and peas for years from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Herbfarm Cookbook.
Relax, have fun and have a happy Mother’s Day!