Ever wonder where that saying came from? Many traditions have noted that sage has the ability to enhance one’s inner wisdom… and so the word “sage” is applied to a person who is wise. Sage is also associated with poultry especially dark meats to take the oiliness when roasting, so it became to known as a traditional flavor for Turkey dinner. A short bit of facts and recipes follow so you can be wise with sage…
The History of Sage
Sage has one of the longest histories of use of any medicinal herb. The Greeks and Romans were said to have highly prized the many healing properties of sage. The Romans treated it as sacred and created a special ceremony for gathering sage. Both civilizations used it as a preservative for meat, a tradition that continued until the beginning of refrigeration. Sage’s legendary status continued throughout history. Arab physicians in the 10th century believed that it promoted immortality, while 14th century Europeans used it to protect themselves from witchcraft. Sage was in so much demand in China during the 17th century, that the Chinese are said to have traded three cases of tea leaves (camellia sinensis) to the Dutch for one case of sage leaves. The burning of sage sticks is another spiritual and aromatherapy use practiced throughout the ages.
Wellness Uses of Sage
Like rosemary, sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids and phenolic acids, including the phenolic acid named after rosemary—rosmarinic acid. This makes sage a great antioxidant. Increased intake of sage as a seasoning in food is recommended for persons with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis as well as bronchial asthma, and atherosclerosis. Research confirms what herbalists have long known: sage is an outstanding memory enhancer. Sage is an excellent digestive herb when used for seasoning on meals of rich meats and fowl. The colonists also considered sage a valuable remedy for colds and fevers in the harsh New England winters. Sage has excellent antibacterial and astringent properties, which explains it popular use in gargles for sore throats, gingivitis and sore gums. Sage is an excellent natural disinfectant and deodorizer. Sage is a well regarded herb for women and can be especially helpful for relieving the hot flashes of menopause, and slowing heavy menstrual bleeding.
Culinary Uses for Sage
Long used as a digestive aid, sage goes well with fatty foods, such as pork, liver (or pate), and sausages. Although North Americans most commonly associate sage with stuffing for poultry or pork it has many uses in European and Mediterranean cuisines, especially Italian dishes, such as pizza, foccaccia, saltimbocca, gnocchi, and pasta. It blends well with mild cheeses, eggs (i.e. in an omelette), chicken (i.e. roast chicken with sage & lemon inside), lamb (i.e. in lamb burger patties), use with parsley, rosemary and thyme in chicken risotti and soups or add along with fresh parsley, basil, thyme, and rosemary to tomato sauces.
RECIPES AND MORE
Grilled Turkey Breast with Fresh Sage Leaves
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 28 leaves fresh sage, 4 skinless, boneless turkey breast halves, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 lemons, halved
1.Mix lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and sage leaves in a large container and place turkey breast halves into the marinade. Allow meat to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature, turning turkey breasts over occasionally.
2.Preheat grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
3.Remove turkey breasts from marinade and reserve the marinade and sage leaves. Sprinkle turkey on both sides with salt and pepper.
4.Grill turkey breasts on the preheated grill until they show grill marks, the meat is no longer pink inside, and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), about 30 minutes. Turn turkey pieces over after 15 minutes.
5.While turkey is grilling, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot and bubbling. Pour reserved marinade, including sage leaves, into the oil and butter and cook, stirring often, until the marinade has evaporated and the sage leaves are crisply fried, 10 to 15 minutes.
6.Transfer grilled turkey breasts to a cutting board and season again with salt and black pepper if desired; thickly slice the turkey on the diagonal and arrange on a platter, topped by fried sage leaves and garnished with lemon halves.
Other pairings for Sage
fried liver and croutons, white beans, onion, apples, pineapple, roasted peanuts, polenta, make sage butter, Infuse honey with sage
Besides books at home, here’s some new references to check out: