Fettuccine With Brown Butter and Sage

TIMEDecember 12, 2021

The combination of brown butter and sage makes a super simple yet sophisticated sauce to serve over fresh pasta. You can also drizzle it on roasts and other meats, mashed potatoes, and any kind of ravioli or gnocchi; I love using it to add flavor to mushroom risotto and seared salmon. This is one of those genius recipes that will help you create instant meals and feel like a kitchen goddess.

Butter is gently cooked until the milk solids start to brown, turning it a light mahogany color, and giving it an irresistibly nutty, rich aroma. Once it reaches the right color, the sage is added to fry for a few seconds until crisp. Yes, it can go from golden perfection to burnt disaster very quickly, so you can’t take your eye away from the pan.

For this recipe, I am using fresh store-bought fettuccine. My favorite brand is Cipriani, widely available, and you can use the green or white version. I’m not adding any cheese, as it will interfere with the delicate flavor of the scallops. But, for another occasion, when I serve this by itself or with a heartier fare, I would certainly garnish it with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Note: If scaling down for two people, halve the pasta, but make the full batch of sauce and save the extra in the fridge; a smaller amount of butter is more susceptible to burning.

Serves 4

  • 8 ounces fresh fettuccine
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 10 to 15 fresh sage leaves, pat very dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Following the package instructions, cook the pasta until al dente, drain, and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a medium pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter until foamy. Swirl the pan to make sure the butter is browning evenly. Once it starts to turn golden brown, add the sage leaves and fry for a few seconds. You will see the leaves crisp up. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, pour over the cooked pasta, and serve immediately.

Victoria de la Maza is an award-winning cookbook author, columnist, and international TV host. Passionate about great food, she combines American traditions with her European heritage to create classic-with-a-twist recipes and ideas for stylish entertaining at home. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter, "Diary of a Serial Hostess,” at