Who likes sage? Raise your hands!!!!
Sage is a funny herb…it has quite a medicinal flavour (much like rosemary) and some people are put off by it. My mom never used sage when I was growing up (sage is quite common in Tuscan cooking but the town that my mom is from didn’t really use it). My mother-in-law, on the other hand, makes a killer stuffing at Thanksgiving and its all because of the sage!!
I know a lot of you have been growing it this summer (the one beauty of living through a pandemic is that so many of you have started home gardens this year!!). I’ve been getting lots of question on what to do with all of the sage you guys have now and I will be doing another post soon on all the things you can do with sage… stay tuned for that!).
But, for now, this recipe is the first thing that came to mind when I was trying to think about what dish I could make with sage that would make it the star of the show.
History of this Recipe:
When I went to Tuscany 16 years ago (my first-ever trip to Europe), we stayed with a woman who would make us special treats using things from her garden – like this – before dinner. As I watched her make these in front of us, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about eating a whole sage leaf. But, like those of you who have had pasta with browned butter and sage – usually served with a crispy sage leaf – you know that cooking the sage really makes it mild.
How you Can Change it:
I know many of you won’t even get this far because you don’t like anchovies (and if you don’t like them AND you’ve actually read this far, I love you immensely!).
The original recipe was exactly like this recipe here but feel free to change it up.
Don’t like anchovies? Use smoked trout…or salami!
Like anchovies but a whole piece is just too much? Cut the saltiness with some cheese (I’ve added the option of mozzarella in the recipe but you can shmear on goat cheese instead).
Lay out your sage leaves and find a companion leaf (’cause you’re making a sandwich so you need a matching leaf!!)
Place the anchovy on one of the leaves and then close it up.
Dip each ‘sandwich’ in the batter, scraping it along the side of the batter bowl to make sure you remove excess batter.
Shallow fry the sage and you have yourself a great little snack! These make a great addition to a patio gathering … just add a cold glass of white wine, and you got yourself a partyyyyy!
Deep fried Anchovy-Filled Sage "Sandwiches"
If you like the saltiness of anchovies, you're going to love this!!! You can change the filling to whatever you like (some mozzarella is amazing!) and if you have left over batter, you can use it to coat and fry any vegetable (zucchini flowers, strips of zucchini, mushrooms, etc). It keeps in the fridge for a week!
- 2-3 cups mild oil (canola/vegetable/corn)
- 1 large bunch sage (about 40 large leaves)
- 1 small can (50-100g) anchovies leftovers can be kept under oil in the fridge for a long time
- 20 very small strips mozzarella, to fit onto each leaf (optional to cut the salt)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup mineral water/beer
Wash and pat dry the sage leaves. Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, add the oil and begin heating over medium heat (be careful that it doesn't get too hot...lower the temp if you are taking a bit more time prepping the sage...increase the temp just before you are begin to fry the leaves..
Prepare the batter by mixing the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl; add in the liquid and set aside as you prepare the sage.
Lay out the sage leaves so each has a similar sized "partner leaf" so you are making an assembly line. Place a smallish piece of anchovy onto half of the leaves and top with a tiny piece of cheese (if using) and close it up with another leaf.
Prepare a baking sheet with paper towel and set aside.
Take each leaf bundle/sandwich and dip it gently into the batter, making sure the batter is coating the entire thing and run it along the side of the bowl to scrape off excess batter.
Set it into the oil (if it doesn't sizzle, increase the heat); as it browns on the bottom, using a fork, flip it over and brown on the other side. Remove from the skillet and place on the prepared baking sheet with paper towels (there is no need to salt this as the anchovy give you enough salt).
Serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven.