AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Sage Gone Wild DATE: 5/20/2008 10:10:00 AM ----- BODY:
Up until this year, my sage plants have hobbled through the seasons. Each of the 4 plants would grow anemically, with just enough leaves each week to add sparkle to maybe one dish. Every once in a while, I’d be cooking an especially sage-y meal and I would decapitate a plant. If patience prevailed and the weather gods favored me, the plant would grow back. Otherwise, I’d buy another plant and try again the next year.

We’re only a few weeks into spring, and already my sage plants have grown so large they’ve begun to flower. I pruned the bushes, donating the leaves to a friend’s kitchen. Still, if I don’t do something quick they may shade the celery plants which are also vying for sun.

Sage is a tricky herb – added fresh to a dish, a little (just a tablespoon fresh chopped) goes a long way. But if you fry the leaves and sprinkle with a little salt, they entice you like potato chips.

Here are my two favorite dishes that require copious amounts of sage…

Pasta with Fried Sage and Parmesan

1 pound pasta of choice
1 bunch sage, leaves picked
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup parmesan
2 - 4 tbs. butter (depending on taste)
1/2 cup chicken broth or cream
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium high heat in a sauté pan. Add sage leaves. Cook until they begin to look translucent. Add garlic slices. Continue cooking until garlic is lightly browned. Remove from heat

3. When pasta is done, drain. Toss with sage and butter mixture. Add chicken stock and parmesan. Stir to coat pasta. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Chicken Saltimbocca

4 chicken breast cutlets
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
4 slice proscuitto
1 bunch sage, leaves picked
3 cloves garlic, sliced.
3 tbs. plain oil
1 shallot, diced
1/2 cup sherry
2 tbs. butter (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in sauté pan. Add sage leaves. Fry for 2 minutes, or until they begin to get crispy. Add garlic, and continue frying for 1 minute or until garlic begins to turn brown. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Over the center of each chicken breast, layer mozzarella, prosciutto and 1/8 of sage-garlic mixture. Fold over to seal in filling.

3. Heat large sauté pan over high heat. Add remaining oil. Sauté chicken for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown on outside, and cooked through (or you can bake chicken at 350 for 10 minutes).

4. When chicken is finished cooking, keep warm in oven. Add shallots and sherry to chicken pan. Bring wine to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and swirl in whole butter. Season pan juices to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

5. Slice chicken into medallions, and serve with pan juices. Garnish with remaining fried sage and garlic.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:5/21/2008 04:57:00 PM Of my two sage plants, both four years old, one came back stronger than ever, and one is a bit leggy, so it's in for some serious pruning. I love having sage right from my garden. ----- --------