Erbaluce’s Lemon and Herb Sabaione

Charles Draghi of Erbaluce (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

Spring has been a little tough this year. At times, it seems that April showers have brought with them little more than, well, May showers. But spring has yielded more than just raindrops. It’s also produced a variety of tasty local vegetables from mushrooms to fiddle-heads to asparagus and spring-dug parsnips.

Chef Charles Draghi of Boston’s Erbaluce restaurant has a wonderful sauce that adds an extra note of sophistication to these earthy, early spring vegetables. It’s a Sabaione, a savory egg-based sauce with a touch of lemon and a lot of fresh herbs. It’s not a tough sauce to make, but it is as elegant as can be — I’ve made it twice (once with regular eggs and once with duck eggs, which I highly recommend) and both times it was a knockout.

Here is what Chef Draghi had to say about the Sabaione:

“This is a very light and intensely delicious sauce variation on the famous [Italian] dessert sbaglione. It is used in Piemontese cuisine as a sauce for simple roasted vegetables, poached chicken or greens. The texture and flavor are somewhat like a light hollandaise, with lots of lemon sharpness and no rich fats. Because of this, it is a perfect sauce for any of the cruciferous vegetables — cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc. — as well as spring vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, fiddlehead ferns, peas, spring-dug parsnips, etc.”

When I visited Erbaluce, Draghi served the sauce with lightly sauteéd parsnips, wild mushrooms (morels or chantarelles work nicely), ramps, and a beautiful mix of fresh and dried herbs. It was lovely. We’re providing the recipe here.

Lemon and Herb Sabaione with Sauteéd Spring Vegetables

Lemon And Herb Sabaione

4 extra large egg yolks
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
½ cup white wine (or chicken broth)
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. each, any, all, or in any combination (finely chopped): Thyme, basil, mint, parsley, sage, celery leaves.
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients, except for ½ of the lemon juice and the lemon zest, into a steel mixing bowl. Whisk over a double boiler, until the egg mixture cooks and firms up into the consistency of a thick mayonnaise. Remove the sauce from heat, and add the remaining lemon juice (or to taste).

Over sautéed vegetables. Garnish with the lemon zest and herb sprigs.

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