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Thanksgiving’s Coming, Plant Sage Now!

Have you ever thought of putting a bit of sage in your spaghetti sauce? Hmmm. I’ll pass on that one. The beloved herb Salvia officinalis actually is a Mediterranean native that has migrated around the world and now lends its woodsy flavoring to our Thanksgiving table.

Classic Green Sage

If you want to have a patch of sage ready for holiday picking, now is a great time to tuck it in the herb garden. Marian Buchanan, the Dallas herb expert, suggests planting herbs in a generous half day of sunlight, preferably morning light with some afternoon protection.  Good drainage is critical with herbs; Marian says to add at least 2-3 inches of organic compost and expanded shale before planting. Like rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and fennel, sage is sensitive to overwatering.  Marian suggests watering thoroughly, then let the soil dry a bit.

I visited the herb section of our local nursery last week and like jelly beans at the mall candy store, I wanted a variety of each color.  The classic green garden sage is perfect for turkey stuffing and flavoring stock.  Try this sage blended into mild cheese or minced with other herbs in a delectable melted butter. 

Berggarten SageThe ‘Berggarten’ sage leaves are quite a bit larger and more rounded than oval-leafed garden sage.  If dried, this sage can lose its flavor and taste more medicinal after awhile.  Try freezing the fresh leaves for better flavor.  ‘Berggarten’ translates to ‘mountain garden’ in German.  The name comes from the gardening plots of the Herrenhausen Gardens in Hanover, Germany, built in 1666 to supply produce for the Herrenhauser Castle in Lower Saxony.

On your herb buying trip, you also might see the adorable ‘Tricolor’ sage. The pink, white and green leaves have the classic sage taste and are popular asTricolor Sage a garnish for roasted turkeys.  Crushed or chopped leaves add a wonderful flavor to soups, teas, vegetables, salmon or tilapia fillets.  If you want to keep the lovely pink edge on this sage, be sure to plant it in sufficient sunlight.  Otherwise, the leaves will fade to just green and white. 

Linda has tempted our blog readers with so many of her recipes.  She’s culling her holiday files now for Thanksgiving classics, many featuring sage. 

In my kitchen, I’m like the Chinese in the 17th century who so admired sage from the Dutch merchants that they would trade three chests of Chinese tea for one chest of sage. 


About Dallas Garden Buzz

Dallas County Master Gardeners growing and sharing from The Raincatcher's Garden.

4 responses »

  1. Love this post. I’ve asked my friends stateside to send me sage seeds as I can’t find them here in Puerto Rico and suppliers won’t ship to PR. Fried sage with ravioli is one of my favorite meals.

  2. Ravioli with fried sage, asparagus and walnuts

    Start to finish: 20 minutes

    Servings: 4

    The asparagus and walnuts pair perfectly with the sage and ghee in this recipe, but don’t hesitate to mix it up. Almonds and cauliflower florets would be great, as would lightly chopped pistachios and baby bella mushrooms. The pinch of red pepper flakes doesn’t add much heat; it just helps heighten the other flavors. But if you like your dinner with punch, up your pinch.


    10-ounce package fresh cheese ravioli

    3 tablespoons ghee

    Pinch red pepper flakes

    5 large fresh sage leaves (left whole)

    1 bunch asparagus, bottoms trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths

    1/3 cup toasted walnuts, lightly chopped

    Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


    Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook according to package directions, then drain and set aside.

    Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the ghee. Add the red pepper flakes and sage leaves, then fry until the sage is crisp.

    Remove the sage from the pan and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the asparagus. Sauté until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

    Add the walnuts, toss well, then add the drained ravioli and toss again. Crumble the fried sage leaves into the dish, then season with salt and pepper.

    Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 414 calories; 212 calories from fat (51 percent of total calories); 24 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 71 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 5 g fiber; 431 mg sodium.

    © Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.


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