You can do so much more with sage than just chop it up and stir it into a recipe. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you haven’t tried fried sage leaves, you’re in for a treat.
“Cur moriatur homo cui salvia crescit in horto?” -attributed to ancient Romans.
“What man need die when he has sage in the garden.”
A Sage Primer
Sage has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. The Romans used it as a curative to treat depression, fever, mouth and throat infections, even snake and insect bites. They called it herba sacra or sacred herb. Its Latin name salvare means to be saved. Sage combines well with prosciutto and veal to make saltimbocca. It’s a key ingredient in the famous dish of Venice: liver and onions. And it pairs well with poultry and beans. Sage is one of the most popular, versatile herbs in the Italian kitchen.
So the two pictures above show sage growing in a pot in my garden and then washed and dried ready to fry. It’s just such a beautiful, velvety leaf.
Sage is really a durable herb as it will not die during a snowy, wintry winter. That’s also my sage in the picture above surviving our polar vortex.
Once you’ve cleaned and gently dried your sage leaves, make the batter of equal parts flour, sparkling water and beer. Then refrigerate the batter for at least one hour. The key is having a cold batter coating the leaves as they enter oil that’s been heated to at least F. 350 degrees. Keep your eye on the leaves, as they only need about 30 seconds to fry. Rub a little oil on your tongs so that the sage leaves don’t stick to them as you turn the leaves over in the batter.
Drain the fried sage on paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with a crisp cold glass of white wine…or whatever. And enjoy.
Fried Sage Leaves
Yield: 40 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 20-25 fresh sage leaves
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup sparkling water
- 1 cup beer
- oil for frying
- Wash and dry the sage leaves
- Combine the flour, water and beer in a large bowl and gently stir to combine
- Refrigerate the batter for at least one hour
- Heat about two inches of oil in a pan to 350 degrees on a candy thermometer
- Remove the batter from the fridge and, working quickly, dunk a sage into the batter, then lower it into the hot oil
- Fry until lightly brown and crispy and lay across paper towels to drain.
- Salt and serve