Poor, underrated sage. It’s a gloriously flavorful, velvety leaf, and yet we generally treat him/her as though he/she is good for nothing but an annual poultry seasoning. It’s such a shame, really. Every fall and through the winter, I make a special effort to make poor Sage feel special and appreciated. Actually, I don’t even deserve that much credit. I can’t HELP but throw a little sage into everything I make. It’s so flavorful, earthy and woodsy, yet gentle and not bold or overpowering like a rosemary or thyme flavor.
Pesto is such a bright and refreshing herb paste that really is a near-perfect flavor combination– but with basil out of season, a void is left in its wake. Enter, sage! Add a couple twists on the classic basil/pine nut ingredients, and you have a perfect fall stand-in. I tried making pesto with sage last year and I honestly didn’t care for it. It was bitter and just didn’t sing with the same harmony as its traditional parent recipe. Knowing it would be delicious if done right, I didn’t give up. I took another crack at it this year and succeeded in making the perfect sage pesto. There are two secrets to it: first, cut half the sage with spinach. Sage can’t stand on it’s own like basil can; it becomes too strong. It needs to be diluted and carried with another green, or that bitterness I mentioned will be the finishing and dominant flavor. Second, use part orange juice to replace some of the lemon juice. Not only does orange pair nicely with sage– the sweet juice will also balance out bitterness really well.
By the way, sage pairs best with Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, so stock up!
Makes 1 ½ cups (12 oz)
3 packed cups baby spinach
1 ½ cups sage leaves (2-3 supermarket sized packs)
½ cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup grated Parmesan or nutritional yeast
2-3 cloves peeled garlic
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp kosher salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients, except for canola and olive oils, into a food processor. Blend until a coarse, dry paste is formed, about 30-60 seconds. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Begin blending again and pour oils in slowly while the machine is running. Continue to blend until mixture comes together, thins out a bit, and becomes creamier. This will take another 30-60 seconds.
Transfer pesto to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Now, this stuff isn’t just for pasta. You could definitely use it as a sauce on your fusili or gnocchi, of course, but let’s not underestimate our friend Sage. He/she pairs especially well with prosciutto, ham, lamb, white beans, and apples. I’ve rounded up 9 ideas for easy ways to utilize this stuff!
Mix it into Mayo
Spread said mayo on tomorrow’s leftover turkey sandwich, or even use it in my Sweet Potato Salad!
Use it as a Turkey Topping
Great in addition to, or in lieu of, cranberry sauce.
Make a Sage Pesto Vinaigrette
Use an equal amount of sage pesto instead of basil pesto in my Pesto vinaigrette recipe. Put it on a salad with some toasted pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and goat cheese.
Top Pumpkin Soup
Swirl it into Polenta
Easiest side dish imaginable.
Toss it with Roasted Butternut Squash
Add it to Italian Onion Soup
Stir it right into the broth. Find the recipe here!
Swirl it into Gravy
It’s so perfect on mashed sweet potatoes.
I saved my very favorite for last.
Spread it on Grilled Cheese
You are looking at the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had in my life. I took one bite and had to sit down.
I slathered the pesto on one slice of nutty whole grain bread, added two slices of Havarti cheese and two slices of Swiss. I buttered the bread, grilled the sandwich just right, and had an unforgettable experience.
This is my last post until after Thanksgiving! Enjoy your holiday, and if you want to find more unique Thanksgiving dishes, click here! You’ll find great recipes like Green Bean Casserole Chowder, and 7 Ways to Use Pecan Butter.Add to Favourites