Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Penne in a Sage Butter with Cremini Mushrooms

I've been in love with cooking with fresh sage for several weeks now - ever since my hubby and I saw a Cooking Channel show using this ingredient.  We started working with it when we made homemade ravioli.

We had a bit leftover and it keeps for about 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge, so I've had some time to experiment with it.  It's far more hardy than basil and rosemary, so it keeps extremely well.

It's another huge hit for us, sage has a natural earthiness and in its fresh form, it's far less overpowering than using dry sage (which I'm not a huge fan of).

I do love to use dry herbs in cooking - both for the cost and the convenience - but fresh herbs like rosemary and sage can be had for as little as $1 or $2 at most grocery stores in Chicagoland.  It's a small splurge that is well worth it and if you have a lot of the herbs leftover, simply hang them to dry and use them as dried herbs, just like you would store bought dry herbs.

I love pairing hearty herbs with mushrooms and sage is a natural pairing.  All you have to do is melt some butter over low heat, stir in some olive oil, and add 1 sage leaf for every tablespoon of butter and oil.  It's so simple to put this together, the bold flavor of sage takes only a few minutes to infuse into the butter and the mushrooms do a great job of absorbing the flavors.

If you do not have wine on hand or do not normally drink wine, a good substitute for this is chicken or vegetable stock.  It's better to use broth or stock versus water.

You could also add in heavy cream for a richer sauce.  I like the layer of flavor that wine adds and any variety of white wine will work, from chardonnay to riesling to even a moscato, they all can work well in this (and most) recipes that call for white wine.

A favorite place to look for deals on wine is at Trader Joe's.  They have a good selection of organic and California wines at very fair prices.  If you seldom use wine to cook with, buy a small bottle (sampler size), since you use very little in the recipe, it's an affordable way to go in the dish.

Ingredients:
1/4 lb. penne or small shells (free after coupons)
3-4 small sage leaves ($.15)
2 T. butter ($.15)
1 T. olive oil ($.10)
8 cremini mushrooms, sliced ($.40)
salt and pepper to taste ($.05)
2-3 T. white wine ($.20)
3 T. parmesan cheese ($.10)
1 tsp. parsley, optional ($.05)

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente, salt the water generously before adding the pasta.

Melt butter over a medium low heat in a medium nonstick skillet, stir in olive oil and add sage leaves.  Let the sage lightly fry to 3-5 minutes, or until sage is fragrant.  Remove sage leaves and add in sliced mushrooms.  When mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add in wine and 2 T. parmesan, continue cooking over medium low heat, until a light sauce forms.  Ladle in 3-4 T. of pasta water, stirring to combine with white wine mushroom mixture.

Drain pasta and add to sauce, cooking over low heat for 2-3 minutes, until sauce and pasta are well combined.  If sauce is thin, add more parmesan, if sauce is too thick, add more cooking liquid.

Top with parmesan and parsley.

Yields = 3 servings (as a side dish)
Cost: $1.20
Cost per serving: $.40

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