The delicate, nutty taste of brown butter adds wonderful depth of flavor to a variety of foods. As long as you stay attentive, making brown butter (beurre noisette in French) is an easy technique to perfect.

In this recipe we've made a fresh sage brown butter and combined it with walnuts, tender strips of chicken breast and whole wheat penne.

This mellow blend of flavors turns this quick and easy pasta dish into a delicious weeknight dinner or casual company meal.

Penne with Chicken, Walnuts and Sage Brown Butter

Love the flavor of fresh sage? Try this meatless pasta recipe that pairs it with butternut squash, whole wheat spaghetti and pine nuts:

Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage

Penne with Chicken and Sage Brown Butter

Penne with Chicken and Sage Brown Butter

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Making brown butter is an easy and useful technique to learn and here we've combined it with fresh sage, walnuts and whole wheat penne to make a simple yet elegant pasta dish that's perfect for weeknight dinner or a casual company meal.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1/4 lbs)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • Freshly ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Cook the penne in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain, return to the pan and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Toss until melted, cover to keep warm and set aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/4-inch thick strips. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of the remaining butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until it begins to foam. Quickly add the walnuts and sage and stir to combine.
  4. Continue stirring and as soon as the butter develops a toasty brown color, add it to the pasta and toss to coat. Watch the butter carefully as it browns and don't leave it unattended as it can burn very easily.
  5. Return the frying pan to the stove over medium heat and add the last 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken and sauté until light golden on all sides and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Stir in the chicken broth and parsley, cook for 1 minute, then add the pasta to the pan. Combine well and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  8. To serve, plate individual servings, topping each with a bit of ground nutmeg.