From the Spice Cupboard: Sage

Sage isn't a seasoning that you find in too many preparations. Its strong, distinct flavor easily dominates a dish and relegates it to the "occasional use" category. How do you use it?

Sage is actually a member of the mint family, and it definitely shares a sharp aromatic potency with its mint cousins. Its spear-shaped leaves are soft and woolly, with a pebbled texture. The plants can range in color from gray-green to lime green.

To us, sage has a pine-like flavor and aroma. It's also often described as having eucalyptus and citrus notes. We think it's best fresh; the dried stuff often ends up tasting bitter and musty.

You'll find sage in a lot of northern Italian cooking - think of bean dishes, potato dishes, stuffed meats, savory breads, and pasta dishes.

It pairs very well with chicken and other poultry (as evidenced in many Thanksgiving recipes!), as well as pork and sausage. Sage and butternut squash are also a frequent combination, one of the few pairings of sage with a sweet ingredient.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes featuring sage:

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pine Nuts
DIY Sage Pesto
Bacon-Sage Meatballs with Buttermilk Gravy
Vanilla, Pear, and Sage Summer Cocktail

What are yours?

Related: Weekend Project: Stocking the Spice Cupboard

(Image: Flickr member suttonhoo22 licensed under Creative Commons)

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