Sage, a member of the mint family, has been enjoyed for centuries for both its culinary and medicinal uses. The name comes from a derivative of the Latin salvus, meaning "safe," a reference to the herb's believed healing powers.*
Sage is considered to have a special affinity for fatty foods like pork and cheese, so it is used in sausage dishes and poultry stuffings. It also complements potatoes and bean soups.
Fresh leaves are typically added near the end of cooking process, or the leaves are sauteed in butter or olive oil until crisp, much like curry leaves.
Potato Gnocchi with Sage, Preserved Lemon, and Brown Butter is a simple and flavorful dish inspired by the classic Gnocchi with Sage and Butter. It is my contribution for Weekend Herb Blogging. I used store bought Potato Parmesan Gnocchi for this recipe. (I have never made Gnocchi from scratch yet - but never say never...)
Brown butter or Beurre noisette (hazel butter) and Beurre noir (black butter) are sauces of melted butter cooked until the milk solids and sugars have turned golden or dark brown; they are often finished with an addition of vinegar or lemon juice. Brown butter is simply butter cooked until it's milk solids have browned. Butter's flavor is deepened by boiling off the water and allowing the milk sugar and proteins to react with each other to form brown pigments and new aromas**. It is often finished with an addition of vinegar of lemon juice. (Ghee is clarified butter made by boiling off the water and removing the milk solids to leave behind a clear, long keeping fat that can be heated to a higher smoke point than butter, because it has no milk solids that can burn).
I have found Preserved lemons in South east Asian stores at dirt cheap prices. These are delicious, but incredibly salty, so watch the added salt if using. I sometimes substitute them for fresh lemons as I have done in this recipe.
13oz, (about 370g) store bought Potato Parmesan Gnocchi
1 preserved lemon, seeds and center removed, finely chopped (or substitute lemon juice and zest to taste)
20-30 fresh Sage leaves, chopped
salt to taste
Set enough water to boil to cook the gnocchi according to package directions. (When gnocchi overcooks, it turns to mush. It is also best eaten hot off the stove - I have already verified both:), so timing is of the essence). Meanwhile, melt 2T butter and let it brown to a dark amber color(do not let it burn). When the gnocchi are done, toss with the browned butter and sage and preserved lemon and toss around for a minute or so. Serve hot.
Instead of adding fresh sage leaves towards the end, you can also try frying the sage leaves to a crisp in the brown butter.
References and Notes:
*Comprehensive information on sage can be found here
** From Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking
Kayln's comment about the difficulty of finding preserved lemons, inspired me to try and make Lemon Confit next. I think it may be a quick and easy substitute that doesn't need to wait for the rinds to soften - so it's good to go right away. Let me know if you do try it.