Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sage Advice

If I had to pick two herbs to take with me on a desert island I think it would be cinnamon and thyme. But lately I have become more enamored of sage. Especially with autumn menus, sage goes so well with winter squash, potatoes, and pork as well as eggs, and pasta.

I have an inordinate amount of sage growing in my small herb garden, so I've looked for some ways to use it up in condiment recipes so that I'll be able to enjoy it once the garden is gone for the winter. I've found two winners so far.

One is a sage pesto that I found on the excellent food blog, FOOD52. It calls for pistachios which I didn't have yesterday, so I used walnuts instead. Here is my slight variation on their recipe, plus a link to the original: http://food52.com/recipes/19492-grilled-aged-cheddar-cheese-sandwich-with-pistachio-sage-pesto

I used this on roasted butternut squash last night and it was fabulous. Tonight, I'm going to make my old stand by of "egg on pasta", basically a softly fried egg, cooked in the grease from crisply fried pancetta on top of whole wheat pasta, with the pancetta, pesto and a bit of Parmesan. YUM!

Walnut Sage Pesto

  • 1 cup sage
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine the first 4 ingredients in the food processor until well blended, then slowly pour in the olive oil through the feeding tube while the processor is running. Add salt and pepper after the oil and to your taste. 

The second recipe is a herbed garlic salt mixture that I found while listening to NPR's Splendid Table. http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/fragrant-tuscan-herb-salt. It is wonderful on oven roasted potatoes and popcorn (try cooking the popcorn in either duck fat or marrow fat if you want to be truly decadent!)

Tuscan Herbed Salt
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Scant 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • About 2 cups loosely-packed, pungent fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, savory, or small amounts of lavender
(For Tuscan herb salt use a mix of fresh rosemary and sage leaves, 50/50 or whatever balance you prefer)

Cut each garlic clove lengthwise through the center, remove the sprout (if any) in the center and discard. Note: if you don't like garlic, you can leave it out.

Mound the salt and garlic on a cutting board. Use a chef’s knife to mince the garlic, blending it with the salt as you work.

Place herbs in a mound and coarsely chop them. Add the herbs to the garlic salt and chop them together to the texture of coarse sand.

Spread the salt on a baking sheet or in wide flat bowls and leave near an open window for a couple of days to dry. Store in clean, dry jars. I put the baking sheet in the laundry room on the top of the dryer and that worked well with the added benefit of making the laundry room smell yummy (if a little garlicky!).

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