sage

Most home cooks have an aging jar of sage tucked away in the spice cabinet. It gets pulled out at Thanksgiving for stuffing,  and then relegated to the back of the cabinet once again. Don’t leave your sage lonely in there all year! There are so many delicious uses for this herb — with pork, chicken, beans, potatoes, cheese, or one of my personal favorites, sage and brown butter sauce. How about a cocktail? Dessert, anyone?

For most folks, a little sage can go a long way, as it can be overwhelming, so start with a small amount and build on it, especially if you are using dried sage.

Sage is a great source of antioxidants, and brings fiber, vitamins A, B, C & E, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, thiamin and coper. WOW! Who knew? It can help to lower your blood pressure, AND it’s good for your brain!

Luckily for those of us here in the Northwest, sage grows year-round, so I can have fresh sage anytime I want it! It tends to look a bit bleak in the late winter months, but mine is flourishing now, so I’ll share some thoughts and recipes on how to use it, where you grow your own or pick it up  at the supermarket. Let’s get cooking!

sage brown butter sauce with hazelnuts

  • 2 sticks best quality salted butter
  • 2-3 dozen sage leaves, washed and dried
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, halved
  • additional salt, if desired
  • 12 ounces fresh filled pasta, cooked

In large shallow pan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until butter begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes. When butter begins to brown, lower heat to medium low. Add the sage and the hazelnuts. Continue to cook until sage leaves are beginning to crisp. Remove from heat. Pour over filled pasta.

tuscan chicken rolls

This recipe is an adaptation of a dish and herb combination that I learned from my Italian cooking teacher, Judy Witts Francini, in Florence.

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 recipe Tuscan herb mixture (recipe follows)
  • 1 baguette
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven or grill to 375°F.

Butterfly the chicken breasts; sprinkle the interior with Tuscan herbs and roll up.

Split the baguette lengthwise, leaving a hinge. Pull out the very soft center of the baguette. Lay the chicken breasts inside the baguette, overlapping the ends to even out the thickness. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil; place in preheated oven or grill for 30-40 minutes, until internal temperature registers 155°F. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. You may serve this dish hot or completely chilled.

Remove foil and slice.

tuscan herbs

  • 1 large branch rosemary
  • 1 large branch sage
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

Remove rosemary and sage from branch, place on cutting board. Top with garlic and salt. Chop finely. (This can also be done in the food processor.) Should you have any extra herb mixture after preparing the chicken rolls, spread it on your cutting board and allow it to dry overnight. Then store in an airtight container. It will keep 2-3 months.

sage & grapefruit martini

  • 6 sage leaves, chopped, plus 2 for garnish
  • 1 lemon slice
  • 2 teaspoons super-fine sugar
  • ice
  • 4 ounces Tanqueray gin
  • 4 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed

Using a muddler, a small ladle, or a large spoon, muddle sage leaves, lemon and sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add the ice, gin and grapefruit juice. Shake 30-40 times. Stain into chilled martini glasses. Garnish with a sage leaf. Makes 2.

fresca sage pan cotta

Yes, this does say ‘fresca,’ and I use the carbonated beverage to make this dessert! I developed this recipe for a group from CocaCola, as we were cooking with their products.

  • 2 packages Knox gelatin **
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely slivered
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups Fresca           

Soften gelatin as directed on package. Heat cream, lemon zest and sage over low heat until bubbles form around the edge. Add sugar, and stir until dissolved. Stir in gelatin until melted. Add Fresca. Pour into serving bowls or goblets. Chill until set.


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