Sage - Much Better Fresh

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How can I use sage in my cooking?

Sage - Much Better Fresh

As a child I hated sage. We only ever used the dried leaves and teamed them with pork knuckles, sausages and pot roasts. To my mind, the strong flavor of the dried sage overpowered every dish it was added to and until recently I avoided cooking with it like the plague.

I did grow several sage plants in my garden, but only for cold treatments and the lovely flowers, who attract bees and, when dried, make the most wonderful purple tea!

But recently, while experimenting with herb oils, I found that fresh sage bears no resemblance to dried. Fresh sage leaves infused in good olive oil made a flavorful condiment. I used it to roast butternut squash and the results were impressive.

Even better is a marriage between unsalted butter and sage. Melt a knob of unsalted butter and add several finely chopped sage leaves. Stir them around until they wilt and start to crisp round the edges, then pour this sage butter sauce over pumpkin ravioli or fresh, home-made egg pasta. Very simple, but very impressive.

My favorite herb to use with potatoes is rosemary, but if you want to serve a tasty but unusual accompaniment with pork chops, try this one: Scrub 1 large potato per person and slice into an even number of slices. Sandwich two potato slices together with 1-2 whole fresh sage leaves. Brush the ‘potato sandwiches' with butter and season with salt and pepper. Pop under the grill and broil until they are nicely golden and puffed up. Turn over, paint with more butter, season and return to the grill to cook the other side. Serve alongside your roast and vegetables or as an unusual nibble with beer or wine.

   

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