This recipe, Brown Butter Sage Tortellini, is from the first chapter of my new cookbook: Lakeside Table: SAUCES – Flavors That Bring People Together. Over the next several weeks, I will be posting one recipe from each chapter until my book launch on October 7, 2021. 🎉 So excited!!!
Brown Butter Sage Sauce over tortellini is from the chapter on Simple Sauces. This chapter contains sauce recipes with only 2 or 3 ingredients. I wanted to include delicious recipes that were extremely easy, fun to make, and give you instant gratification. This pasta recipe does not disappoint!
Video: Tortellini with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
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How to Make Brown Butter Sage Sauce for Tortellini
Don’t let these few simple ingredients fool you. This is a powerhouse combination that is ridiculously quick and easy to whip up. Believe me, if you serve it up to any of your foodie friends, they will be highly impressed. Not kidding.
Variations: Swap out the tortellini for butternut squash ravioli or just sautéed butternut squash. It’s also fabulous with potato gnocchi!
For the Sage Brown Butter Sauce
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the pasta
- 9 oz / 225 g fresh cheese tortellini
- a large pot of salted water
- parmesan cheese (optional)
- MELT THE BUTTER over medium-high heat. Place the butter in a large skillet and let it melt.
- ADD THE SAGE. Rinse the sage and pat it dry. Once the butter has melted, add 6 leaves of sage to the hot butter.
- BROWN THE BUTTER. Very soon after the butter has melted, it will begin to turn light golden brown and give off a rich nutty aroma. This will take about 3 – 4 minutes. Slow down the browning process by turning the stove down to medium-low heat.
- REMOVE THE SAGE. After the butter has browned, turn off the heat. Take the sage leaves out of the butter with a fork or tongs and let them dry on paper towels.
- After they dry, they will be crisp and be a delight to eat. Reserve the sage leaves to garnish your dish.
- TASTE. Adjust seasoning as needed by adding salt and black pepper.
- PREPARE PASTA. Bring a large pot of cold water to boil. Add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente, about 3 – 4 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse it with cool water to stop it from cooking. OR if you’re going to serve it immediately, put the pasta directly into the sauce without rinsing or cooling it.
- PLATE. Toss the pasta with the sauce and divide between 4 to 6 plates. Garnish with the reserved crisp sage leaves. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese (optional).
For future sauces, reserve the pasta water. Keep it sealed in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. This starchy water is a chef’s liquid gold and can be used to thicken and add creaminess to many sauces.
To keep your pasta from sticking together, add the pasta to boiling water and stir constantly for the first minute. While it’s cooking stir it occasionally.
Make sure you salt the water with at least several tablespoons of salt. In a large pot of water, you can even add a 1/4 cup of salt. Worried about salt intake? Most of the salt stays in the water, only a little of it flavors the pasta.
If you’re not using the pasta immediately, pour melted butter over the pasta or drizzle it with olive oil. This will keep the tortellini moist and keep it from sticking.
Q: I don’t have any fresh sage available, can I use ground sage instead?
A: Dear Reader, unfortunately, I’m sad to say… no. Fresh sage has oils in it that aren’t present in its ground form. Part of the joy in this dish is the crispy snap of the lightly fried sage leaf. I would reserve this recipe until fresh sage is once again available.
Brown Butter Sage Sauce Inspiration
There’s an Italian family who immigrated to Ajijic, Mexico years ago and opened a lovely restaurant, La Taverna. They make a simple pasta dish with a brown butter and sage sauce very similar to this one that is pure bliss. Maybe it’s the homemade pasta and the ever-flowing wine that keeps me going back, but to be honest, it’s this sauce. Try it over pasta, steamed vegetables, or ladle it over baked or poached chicken.
Brown Butter Sage Tortellini
Don't let a few ingredients fool you. This is a powerhouse combination! Fresh tortellini makes a big difference. See if you can find it in the cooler section of your grocery store. Browning the butter with the sage in it brings this dish to life!
- 8 tablespoons butter unsalted
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 9 oz fresh tortellini (225g)
MELT THE BUTTER. Over medium-high heat, place the butter in a skillet and let it melt.
ADD THE SAGE. Rinse the sage and pat it dry. Once the butter has completely melted, add 6 leaves of sage to the hot butter.
BROWN THE BUTTER. Very soon after the butter has melted, it will begin to brown and give off a rich nutty aroma. This will take about 3 – 4 minutes.
REMOVE THE SAGE. After the butter has browned, turn off the heat. Take the sage leaves out of the butter with a fork or tongs and let them dry on paper towels. After they dry, they will be crisp and be a delight to eat. Reserve the sage leaves to garnish your dish.
TASTE. Adjust seasoning as needed by adding salt.
PREPARE PASTA. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente, about 3 – 4 minutes.
PLATE. Toss the pasta with the sauce and divide between 2 to 4 plates. Garnish with the the reserved crisp sage leaves.