I have a large and fragrantly abundant pot of sage growing right next to my kitchen door. It is sufficiently plush as to attract admirers from even a sidewalk view. And yet ... I never use it.
Until Sunday, when I snipped one huge stalk, whose thick, mature leaves protectively shaded an inner rung of tiny ones. Its cut end oozed the perfume of summer, which instantly beckoned to be preserved.
Chop sage roughly to expose their suddenly shiny edges and set them in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan with about 1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil. Any neutral oil will do; this just happened to be what I had in abundance.
Warm the oil slowly, then leave the mix at a low bubble for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with the pan lid. Set the timer for an hour.
After the alarm rouses you from your nap -- or whatever useful thing you were doing -- set a fine strainer over another pot and line it with cheesecloth. Pour out this lovely pale green tincture, squeeezing cloth to get every sagey drop. Pour into sealable bottle (such as a now-empty and de-labeled grapeseed oil container). Take a moment to admire it before tucking into a cool, dark cupboard.
My son Graham was inspired to assist when I took a photo of the oil and determined that a pop of citrus would be visually appealing. It looked like it needed something else, like maybe a handful of pistachios -- which, it suddenly seemed, would make an excellent crust for the fresh shrimp on ice in the refrigerator. Shrimp with pistachios, pasta with sage oil and lemon; viola!, dinner.
Shrimp with pisatchios and sage oil
Bring large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta to al dente; drain, reserving about a cup of pasta water. Return to pot. Add sage oil, toss to coat, then cover with lid to keep warm.
Meanwhile, lightly toast pistachios until fragrant. When cool enough to handle, chop (by hand or pulse-chop in processor) to fairly small bits but do not pulverize. Reserve about 2 tbsp. nuts; add rest to a medium bowl with panko. Stir to mix. Juice lemon and set aside.
Peel shrimp. Dip lightly in beaten egg white, then press into coating. Cook in batches in non-stick skillet coated with 2-3 tbsp. canola, adding more oil as neeeded. When shrimp is crispy and browned, transfer to small plate and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Repeat until done. (If you run out of crumbs, cook the last few naked.)
There will be a bunch of crispy crumbs left in the pan. Remove any that look burnt but leave the rest. Add butter, lemon juice and wine. Simmer 2-3 minutes until slightly reduced, then add the sage leaves. Give it another minute, then pour over pasta and toss until well distributed. If too dry, add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water and stir through.
Transfer to pasta to serving bowl, then top with shrimp, reserved chopped pistachios and, if feeling luxe, some finely grated parmesean. Garnish with a drizzle of sage oil. Eat and be happy.