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Sage Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

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A quick & simple vegetable dish full of fall-inspired flavors!

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I’ll be honest, my vegetable recipes are often very boring. In fact, they are hardly recipes at all. While I do always love some simple, steamed broccoli, the same old vegetables cooked the same ways get boring. I tend to just roast or steam whatever vegetable I am making that night, give it a quick spray with the misto, and then sprinkle on a bit of salt.

Since it is fall and fresh asparagus is so easy to find in the grocery stores I’ve been doing some experimentation with it. I like the fall flavors going on with this simple side dish. And yes, I do also love the simplicity. I need more hands-off, tasty vegetable dishes like this one!

For the roasted asparagus you’ll just need asparagus (of course), olive oil spray, and a few sage leaves. Pop it in the oven and make the the balsamic reduction.

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We have a strange affection for balsamic reductions around here. I made one nearly a year ago (to go with some flank steaks) in a food stained calphalon skillet. It takes about 10 minutes or so for the balsamic vinegar to reduce down to about half it’s size. When the vinegar had reduced what appeared was a perfectly clean, sparkly skillet. Now, whenever a skillet has a pesky food stain we always say “time to make a balsamic reduction”. Food nerds.

So, yes, with this simple sauce you can simultaneously clean a tough stain and prepare dinner.

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Getting serious now . . .

Simple vegetable side dish. Healthy and tasty. On the table quickly. Easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but fancy enough to serve guests!

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Sage Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

 
Asparagus, just like other vegetables, shrinks when it is roasted, so what looks like a big bunch will cook down quite a bit. If you are making this for more than 3 or 4 people you may want to double the recipe!
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 12 sage leaves
  • cooking spray (I use misto)
  • salt, to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/3 c balsamic vinegar
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Trim the tough, white ends off of the asparagus and discard (I highly suggest composting).
  3. Spread the trimmed asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. Spray with a thin, even layer of cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and then crumble the sage leaves over the asparagus.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is just beginning to get brown, crispy spots. Feel free to cook longer for crispier asparagus, or shorter for softer asparagus.
  5. While the asparagus is cooking, heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let cook for about 10 minutes, or until it has reduced to about half its size.
  6. To serve, place asparagus on a plate or in a shallow bowl and top with the balsamic reduction.

 

Serve this with:

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Sweet Potato Noodles, Grilled Corn, and Green Onions in Brown Butter Sage Sauce

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This side dish is a bit more indulgent than your usual vegetable side dish. Sweet potato noodles, grilled corn, and grilled green onions provide tons of nutrients in each mouthful. The brown butter sage sauce amps up the flavor!

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I found this recipe (Pan Toasted Brown Butter Gnocchi with Grilled Corn + Scallions) on Pinterest a while ago. It’s not a gluten free recipe. In fact, it calls for premade gnocchi which I have NEVER seen a gluten free version of (if you live in a bigger city than me, you may have that available). But I wanted to try the recipe, and figured any gluten free pasta would be an easy substitute for the gnocchi.

Of course, the pasta was delicious (as is everything I have ever tried from How Sweet It Is), but the preparation was hectic. In typical me-style, I made a serving of GF pasta for myself and a serving of regular pasta for Steve, so that was two separate pots of pasta to look after. Then there was the corn and scallions to grill, the butter to brown, and finally putting everything together in a skillet to toast.  It was one of those “every burner on the stove is being used right now” kind of meals. I’m not fond of that.

After making butternut squash noodles with a brown butter sauce a few weeks ago, I remembered this recipe. I realized that using vegetable noodles in place of the gnocchi would take out a lot of the work. Sweet Potato seemed like the natural choice to make the noodles out of.  I whipped up a batch for dinner one night and it was just wonderful.

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I switched up a few other things, too. I added sage leaves to the brown butter. Cooking the sage in the butter makes it nice and crispy, and adds just another delicious flavor to this side dish. I also left out the parmesan cheese. In making this a few times I noticed that I kept forgetting to add the cheese. I figured it wasn’t that important.

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For what it’s worth, I consider this a moderation food. It’s mostly made out of vegetables, but the butter makes it high in calories. I love the brown butter/sage combination, so whenever I eat something that involves that sauce I am just careful to only eat a serving at a time. That inevitably means there will be leftovers. That means you get to enjoy this more than once! That is, as long as you are the lucky person to get to the leftovers first!

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P.S. I made these beautiful sweet potato noodles with a spiralizer, which I looovvvee.  Don’t feel like you need a spiralizer to make this recipe though. A plain, old vegetable peeler will do the trick. You’ll just end up with thin, wide noodles.

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Sweet Potato Noodles, Grilled Corn and Green Onions in Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Ingredients
  • 2 ears of corn, husked
  • 6 green onions
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled
  • 4 Tbs salted butter
  • 2 Tbs fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
Directions
  1. Turn on the grill and let it preheat. When it is hot, lay the corn and green onions onto the grill. Cook the green onions for about a minute, flip, and cook for another minute. Let the corn cook for about 10 minutes, turning it every few minutes until each side has some brown on it.
  2. Slice the grilled green onions, and cut the kernals off of the corn cob.
  3. Add the butter to a small skillet over medium heat.
  4. While the butter is melting, spiralize your sweet potato into noodles (you’ll at least have a few minutes to work on this. If the butter has melted, move onto the next and come back to the sweet potato noodles later).
  5. Immediately, once the butter has melted, start whisking it with a small whisk or fork. When white foam appears in the butter, add the sage leaves. Keep whisking, continuously, until you start to see brown bits forming in the butter (usually on the bottom on the skillet). Remove the skillet from the heat.
  6. If you need to, finish making the sweet potato noodles do that now!
  7. Once the sweet potato noodles are ready, add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat on medium high.
  8. When the oil is warm, add the sweet potato noodles. Stir to coat them in the oil. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the noodles are soft and tender.
  9. Stir in the brown butter/sage sauce, corn, green onions. If desired, cook for another minute or two until everything is heated through.

Serve this with:

Chicken in Balsamic Browned Butter Sauce

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Although the name makes it sound complicated, this chicken dish comes together in under half an hour. Another bonus is that it is a one pan meal, making the clean up quick, too. I tend to choose to make this on busy weeknight days when I want something more elegant than … sandwiches. Or quesadillas made out of whatever leftovers I have in the fridge.

What is more elegant that crispy, buttery, edibile sage leaves? This chicken and sauce are a great pairing, but the sage leaves – they are AMAZING. I almost feel like the rest of the dish would just not be worth eating without the sage leaves. They’re really, really good. And this is coming from a girl who doesn’t like butter. I have yet to find another great recipe to use these buttery sage leaves in so whenever I’m craving them this is what gets made!

I often serve this with homemade spinach pasta. I like how the green pasta and green sage leaves look together. I mix the pasta dough and cut it prior to making the chicken, even the day before. The chicken and sauce is fairly hands on, so throwing some pasta in a pot is an easy way to bulk up the meal without increasing the effort very much. Some steamed veggies or a salad go great with this, too. With those browned butter sage leaves this obviously isn’t the most healthful meal, but it is not horrible in moderation and with the right sides you can end up with a quick, delicious, well balanced meal!

P.S. The sauce is reeeaaallly good mixed on pasta too, not just chicken!

Chicken in Balsamic Browned Butter Sauce

 
Ingredients
  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 Tbs salted butter
  • 2 Tbs sage leaves (whole)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4c hot water
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat a non stick skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is warm spray it with cooking spray and add half the chicken, spreading it out evenly in one layer. Cook for 2-3 without any stirring, then flip the chicken and cook on the other side another 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet and set it aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining uncooked chicken.
  2. In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium low, and add the butter.
  3. When the butter is melted add the sage leaves. Let them cook until crisp (just a few minutes), then remove them from the pan and lay them out in a single layer.
  4. Add the minced shallot next, and cook, stirring, until the shallots are soft. When the shallots are soft add the balsamic vinegar and then the water. If you are making this with pasta, just scoop out some of the pasta water and add it to the pan.
  5. Finally, add the chicken back into the skillet stir until the chicken pieces are coated with the sauce. Serve topped with the crispy sage leaves.
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