Spaghetti with Sage plus Baby Jesus in Velvet Underwear

​Hot days clearing blackberry bushes and digging out a vegie patch create a mean appetite. It feels like a great accomplishment to finish a day of work, step back to see your progress and feel your stomach grumble. Followed by the sound of Marcel banging pots in the kitchen and a smell of sizzling sage, it’s easy to get addicted to a life in the French countryside. 

This spaghetti dish is a take on the Italian dish ‘Spaghetti Burro e Salvia’ and is simplicity at it’s best. Generally served as a pre-course to a big chunk of meat, instead we ate big bowls as a main dish out in the warm evening with a glass of rosé and some deranged sheep baa-ing across the fence. 

Marcel is from a household filled with the smell of his Mum’s cooking – of which was ongoing and enough to feed the entire country of Brazil. The family of six were all into their sports so the fuel came piled extra high every meal. 

Friends invited for dinner didn’t realise what they’d agreed to as she heaped spoonful after spoonful on to their plates, refusing their pleas of surrender, until every mountainous dish was finished. Pizza nights became a challenge, his Mum piling up a tower of homemade bases on the bench. Then it was on; she’d begin topping and slinging them in the oven, cutting into four and passing through to the group of friends. What began as a sea of fresh hot pizza soon became a tsunami and the Olympic race was on. The record was 24 slices, that’s 6 pizzas in one sitting!

So it’s no wonder that when Marcel cooks for us, it’s second servings all round and when that’s not enough to clean out the saucepan then it’s thirds.

His Spaghetti Burro e Salvia was my first taste of his Italian repertoire and it’s also when I learnt my favourite French saying…

“It’s like baby Jesus in velvet underwear”

Red velvet underwear to be precise and laying in a spaghetti manger. Far better than any cats pajamas or bees knees, the French know how to compliment a dish.

Firstly as a sneaky appetiser he whipped out this little guy…

A goats cheese with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red peppercorns and nasturtium. Plus some homemade spelt bread.

Marcel’s technique for Spaghetti Burro e Salvia:

Firstly pick out some fresh sage leaves, rinse under water and place on paper towel (the residual water makes sure they get crispy when they hit the hot butter).

Toast a handful of flaked almonds in a dry frypan and set aside.

Get your pasta water boiling and add in enough spaghetti for your clan (plus more for seconds and thirds). – we ate this with spelt spaghetti, a good choice for a slightly nutty taste.

Get a saucepan hot and add in a good dob of butter and wait for it to melt and get super hot. 

The timing here is kinda important, add in your sage leaves and hopefully by this stage your pasta is cooked and is ready to be drained and thrown into the buttery pan (once the sage has become nice and crispy).

Toss around and yell out some Italian. Add in the flaked almonds and toss a little more. Season with salt.

Transfer to a colourful serving dish and take to the hungry workers at the table.

Make sure the pepper grinder is at hand and some good sea salt (or if you can get it, smoked salt).

Serve with a glass of rosé or red wine and some bloody ripper conversation.

*He suggests that if you pick the sage late in the season they may be bitter so add some finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the final toss to combat this.

Italian cooked by a Brazilian in France. Deliciozo!

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