Last weekend in Todi my friend Jane brought me a gorgeous bouquet of sage leaves. Although I certainly have sage leaves growing up in Umbria, these leaves were something special. Jane had bought a plant at the farmer’s market in Rome a couple of months ago, put it on her small urban terrace where it not only thrived, but exploded.
The small plant quickly became a veritable sage bush, full of huge, weirdly big leaves. Knowing that there is only so much sage you can work into recipes, Jane nipped them in the bud, and carried them carefully up to Todi.
Where we bathed them in batter, fried them, and enjoyed them with a glass of wine.
If you’ve never had fried sage leaves, you’re in for a treat. It’s beyond easy, and has got to have the highest delicious to pretty ratio of anything I know. The dark green leaves get dipped quickly in a very simple flour and water batter. A few minutes in few inches of hot olive oil, and they become crunchy, earthy treats. Sage chips more or less.
It’s something I do all summer long, and often make do with my normal sized sage leaves. But if you are able to get your hand on the larger leaves it’s much less fussy. Even better if you can get your friend to buy, grow and deliver a bunch of leaves right to your kitchen.
Fried Sage Leaves
Sage Leaves – as many as you think you can handle. I figure on about 5 per person. But no matter how many you make, they get eaten. Rinse and make sure they are dry.
1 cup of water
Flour – about 1/3 cup, maybe more
Place the water in a shallow bowl. Slowly add the flour, a bit at a time, stirring with a fork. Keep adding until you have a batter about the consistency of crepe batter. A very runny pancake batter.
Heat about 1 inch of olive oil in a frying pan. When hot, add just enough sage leaves so they aren’t too crowded, dipping them first in the batter. Let cook, turning after about 2 or 3 minutes. When golden, take out of pan and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt and serve.