Sage Butter & Walnut Pasta

2 servings
20 min

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Are you looking for a straightforward, speedy and satisfying pasta recipe? If yes, this Sage Butter and Walnut spaghetti is a great choice. Spend just 10 minutes throwing this easy recipe together and wrap your tongue around the wealth of texture and flavour this simple dish has to offer.

Al dente spaghetti is tossed in rich caramel brown butter infused with the earthy flavour of fresh sage leaves. Ground walnuts provide a satisfying crunch that contrasts the smoothness of the spaghetti as well as protein that ensures this dish will be a satisfying meal that will keep you full for a while.

Key ingredients and possible alternatives

  • Pasta - I have used dried spaghetti for this recipe but you can substitute for another type of pasta if you prefer. Long pasta types like spaghetti, tagliatelle, and linguine will work well as the ground walnuts will easily cling to them.
  • Walnuts - are toasted and then ground so the nuttiness is evenly distributed throughout the dish.
  • Sage leaves - bring an earthly flavour to the buttery sauce.
  • Butter - adds moisture and richness.
  • Sugar - a small pinch of sugar neutralises the subtle bitterness of the sage leaves.
  • Parmesan and black pepper - are added when the dish is served to bring a subtle sour nuttiness, spice, and texture.
  • Sea or kosher salt - for salting the pasta water. Make sure you salt the water generously, adding up to one handful to the water before you boil the spaghetti. This may seem like a lot but most of it will drain away with the pasta water.
How to make Sage Butter and Walnut Pasta

1. Cook the pasta

Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente according to packet instructions.

2. Toast and blitz the walnuts

Place a frying pan on a medium heat and toast the walnuts for a few minutes until they start to brown. Then whizz them in a food processor or use a pestle and mortar to grind them. Be careful not to over-process the walnuts. You don't want them to become oily.

3. Make the brown butter and sage sauce

Reduce the heat of the frying pan to medium, and add the butter. Add the sage leaves and brown sugar when the butter has melted and leave it to bubble away for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to low when the butter becomes brown.

4. Toss the pasta and ground walnuts in the brown butter and sage sauce

Reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water before you drain the cooked pasta. Toss the cooked pasta and ground walnuts in the sage butter sauce. Add a little pasta water 1 tbsp at a time if the spaghetti requires more moisture. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and grated parmesan.

Tools and Equipment

  • Food processor - this is the quickest way to grind the walnuts. You can also use a pestle and mortar to do this manually. If you don't own a food processor or pestle and mortar chop the nuts with a sharp knife as finely as you can.
  • Large saucepan - pasta cooks better when it has plenty of room so choose a large saucepan to boil the spaghetti.
  • Large frying pan - you can use the same pan to toast the walnuts and make the sage and butter sauce. Choose one that is large enough for you to toss the pasta and ground walnuts in the sage butter.
  • Colander - for draining the cooked pasta. Make sure you reserve some of the water first to add moisture to the spaghetti before serving.
  • Tongs - for tossing and serving the spaghetti. Use a couple of spoons if you don't have tongs.
  • Parmesan grater - for getting the yummy freshly grated parmesan onto your plate when the pasta is served.

3 tips for perfect Sage Butter and Walnut Pasta

  1. Keep an eye on the walnuts - toasting the walnuts only takes a few minutes, so be careful not to forget about them and let them burn.
  2. Be careful not to overprocess the walnuts - turn off the food processor once the walnuts are ground to a grainy texture resembling coarse sand. If you over-process them they will become oily and lose their bite.
  3. Reserve some starchy pasta water - this can be used to add additional moisture to the pasta before serving.

How long will the leftovers keep for?

Sadly this is not one of those dishes that tastes better the next day, but the leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to two days. Store in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave.

Can you freeze Sage Butter and Walnut Pasta?

Yes, you can freeze it for up to 3 months, but it will not taste anywhere near as good. It will lose a lot of its deliciousness if it's not eaten fresh. It's so easy to make that it makes sense to make a fresh batch each time.

How long does it take to cook spaghetti?

Normally 8-12 minutes, but it depends on the brand you are using so make sure you check the packaging. The best way to check if it is cooked is to try a little.

More easy pasta recipes:

Sage Butter & Walnut Pasta
Recipe details
  • 2  servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 10 Minutes Total time: 20 min
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  • Sea or kosher salt
  • 200g (or 7oz) dried spaghetti or similar
  • 25g (or ¼ cup) walnuts
  • 30g (or 2 tbsp) butter
  • 15 sage leaves
  • ¼ tsp brown sugar
To serve:
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pan of generously salted water to boil and cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.
Meanwhile, place a frying pan on a medium to high heat and toast the walnuts for a few minutes until they begin to brown.
Blitz the toasted walnuts in a food processor until they are ground.
Reduce the heat of the frying pan to medium and add the butter.
Add the sage leaves and sugar once the butter has melted and continue to cook on a medium heat until the butter begins to brown then reduce the heat to low.
Reserve some of the starchy pasta water and drain the cooked spaghetti.
Add the cooked spaghetti and ground walnuts to the sage butter and toss until incorporated.
Add starchy pasta water 1 tbsp at a time if the pasta needs a little more moisture.
Serve with ground black pepper and freshly grated parmesan.
Helen | Knife & Soul
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  • Mary Walker Sladek Mary Walker Sladek on May 20, 2022

    Hi. My sage is not leaves…What measurement/amount do I use for sage in powder form?

    • Helen | Knife & Soul Helen | Knife & Soul on May 20, 2022

      Hi Mary, I have never made it with dry sage so can't say how well it will turn out, I would recommend using fresh sage if you can but if not I'd go with around 1tsp of dry sage, you can always add a little more if it's not enough.