Aromatic and bold, sage is a flavorful herb that is a robust addition to a variety of hearty recipes. 

What is it?

Sage is a herb from the mint family that has numerous applications in the kitchen. The plant is an evergreen shrub with light purple flowers and fuzzy, oval leaves (which are used in cooking) with green and greyish color. There are numerous varieties of sage but the green and purple varieties are most commonly used as cooking herbs. 

History

Image Credit: Alicja from Pixabay

Sage is native to the Mediterranean and was most likely first cultivated in the Balkans region. It is commonly used as a food additive, but is also prized for it’s supposed medicinal properties. The ancient Romans believed that sage could treat various digestive and skin ailments and also used it as an anaesthetic. It was also highly sought-after in Europe during the middle ages and was commonly referred to as “Sage the Savior”. The act of burning sage to ward off evil or to achieve spiritual purification has been practised by numerous cultures and religious groups for centuries. 

Flavor and uses

Sage has a strong aroma and an earthy flavor with hints of pepper and mint. The scent and flavors of sage are relatively pronounced when compared with other fresh herbs and it works best when paired with rich and fatty foods that can match its intensity. 

When cooking with sage it’s best to remove the stems and discard them entirely. Sage also works best when cooked over long periods of time and can be unpleasant when consumed raw. In general, sage should be added at the start of the cooking process as this will give the herb a chance to mellow and not overwhelm the dish. 

Sage is a perfect addition to various sausages, stuffings, and dressings and pairs well with rich fatty cuts of pork. Sage and chicken is a classic combination and the herb is equally at home with turkey. Sage is also a vital ingredient in various hearty Italian dishes such as risottos and stuffed conchiglie pasta.

Recipes that use sage

Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage

Creamy Bacon Pasta with Sage and Tomatoes

Sage Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Butter-Basted Pork Chop with Baby Potatoes and French Green Beans

Cream of Butternut Soup with Maple Nut Crunch Topping

Feature Image: Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay

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