Sage is a unique herb that is European in origin and widely used in American and European dishes. Sage is especially prevalent in Italy, where it is known as salvia and has long been considered a digestive aid, which is one reason that it is such a popular addition to fatty meats. Here are some of the best uses for this pungent and versatile herb:
Because dried sage retains its strong flavor when exposed to heat, you can add it early in the cooking process. Some cooks prefer to add fresh sage towards the end of cooking to maximize the flavor it provides, but it is strong enough to be added at the start as well. Sage’s robust and long-lasting flavor ensures that it works particularly well in dishes that cook for a long time like bean soups, stews, and tomato-based pasta sauces.
The sharp lemony notes in sage’s flavor profile are excellent complements for rich meats such as those commonly used to make sausages. Sage is a common ingredient in sausages made in Germany, Greece and the US.
Sage is not a widely used herb in the United States, but most people do know it as the traditional herb for Thanksgiving turkey. It is a useful seasoning for other kinds of poultry as well. The minty intensity of sage’s flavor profile goes well with roast chicken and pairs well with other herbs that often get used for seasoning chicken such as rosemary and thyme. Sage can go into a marinade for poultry, into the stuffing or as an element in a pan sauce made from drippings. Sage is an especially excellent addition to duck because of duck meat’s high-fat content.
Sage’s role as one of the key culinary herbs most likely began with the Ancient Romans, who used it to make the dish called saltimbocca. The traditional form of the popular Italian dish known as saltimbocca is based on three ingredients: veal, prosciutto, and sage. The standard form of the dish involves a veal scallop wrapped in prosciutto with a sage leaf. The trio is sauteed in butter and wine.
In Italy, sage is a traditional herb for pasta. You will see it paired with browned butter and used to flavor gnocchi, ravioli, and fettuccine.
Sage is used for enhancing various savory bread, including breadsticks and cornbread. It can be used as an ingredient in doughs and batters or as a topping with other herbs.
One of the characteristics of sage is that it does well in slow-cooked dishes. That’s one of the factors that makes it such an excellent option for casseroles. While you can use either dried or fresh sage for these dishes, the dried herb is generally considered the better choice.
Sage is somewhat rare among herbs in that it pairs very well with dairy products. It works so well that it is a traditional ingredient in some cheeses such as the English derby cheese. You can also use sage leaves as pizza toppings.
As a garnish
Sage leaves can be fried until crisp and then crumbled over dishes for a flavorful finishing touch. It is the traditional topping for pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli. Frying tames sage’s pungent flavor so that the leaves won’t completely dominate the dish’s flavor.