What does one do when your garden is rampant with sage (and sadly, very little else)? Well, you make pesto of course.

Before the brilliance of sage pesto, I had relegated sage to merely a Thanksgiving herb, getting neatly tucked under turkey skin just prior to roasting. Or casually stirred into sauteed mushrooms before the box of Stove Top gets dumped on top (yes, Stove Top. No matter how hard I try, my family can not deviate from the box). No longer saved for November, we’re eating sage year-round.


Handfuls of pine-y and eucalyptus scented sage get thrown into a food processor with a bit of parsley and mint. These additional herbs help to calm the sage, as does the walnuts, Parmesan and lemon. What you are left with is just the right amount of wondering-through-the woods-after-a-good-rain taste, but not so much so that you feel as if you are eating the forest.

Because of our bountiful bush I was able to whip up a hefty batch leaving me an ample supply in the fridge. So I ate it, marinated with it, turned it into an appetizer, and whisked it into pleasantly biting dressing.


It is sort of reminiscent of the Fall, but with the mass of gray days we’ve been having in Seattle, it seems only fitting.

In order to enjoy this recipe you must be a fan of pungent herbs and not afraid of sage. If you, like me, revel in their floral aroma and not only enjoy eating them but also drinking herb flavored beverages, then you are in the right place. I suggest you start toasting your walnuts. Don’t worry about the sage, I have plenty to share.



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Sage, Ricotta, Pickled Cherry Crostini

One a hearty slice of crusty bread (toasted or not) add a mound of ricotta with a sprinkle of salt. On top of that a smaller heap of sage pesto and finally, a few slices of pickled cherries.

Pickled Cherries

10 oz (roughly 3 cups) Bing cherries (I left the pits in)

3/4 cup (5 1/2 oz) white vinegar

1/4 cup sugar (more if you want more sweetness)

4 cardamom pods, crushed

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1 teaspoon whole coriander

pinch chili flakes (optional)

Combine everything in an airtight container. Shake to mix. Refrigerate. These can be enjoyed a couple hours after mixing and up to one week after. The longer they sit the more pickled they taste. My favorite is 24 hours after they’ve been sitting in their pickle bath. After that I start to add a bit more sugar to balance the tang.

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Sage Walnut Pesto


¼ cup Italian parsley

¼ cup tablespoons mint

1 cup (2 ½ oz.) sage, packed

2 garlic cloves

½ cup (2 oz.) walnuts, toasted

½ cup (1/2 oz.) grated Parmesan

½ cup (3 ¾ oz.) extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Combine first six ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend to a rough puree. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the machine running stream in the olive oil. Add the zest, lemon juice, then taste and add salt to taste. Adjust seasonings to your preference.


Sage Pesto Roasted Chicken

adapted from Zuni Cafe, via Molly (Orangette)

serves 4

1 medium-size whole chicken (about 4 pounds)

salt and pepper (about ¾ teaspoon kosher salt per pound)

½ cup sage pesto

A day or two before roasting generously apply salt and pepper all over the chicken – inside and out. I’ve done this a few hours before and it’s been fine but if you are a better planner than me, I highly recommend salting the bird at least a day in advance. The salt has a chance to permeate the bird replacing the awkward mess of a wet brine.

Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to roast. Make sure the chicken is in a pan with sides so the juices don’t leak on to anything in the fridge.

When ready to roast pre-heat the oven to 450* for at least 30 minutes prior to roasting. Cover the chicken with the sage pesto and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan breast side up. Place in the oven then roast for 30 minutes. Carefully flip the bird over and roast another 15-20 minutes. Carefully flip over once again and finish breast side up for another 5-10 minutes. Total roasting time should be 50-60 minutes.

Remove from the roasting pan and lest rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting.


Sage Pesto Vinaigrette

¼ cup sage pesto

2 teaspoons champagne vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the pesto and vinegar in a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil while continually stirring. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Dressing can be well covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

44 Responses to “sage, walnut pesto – three ways”

  1. Hopie

    I definitely tend to associate sage with fall as well, but it’s been gray and autumnal here in Paris as well in the past few days. I couldn’t definitely get into this summer recipe with hints of Thanksgiving 😉

  2. Snippets of Thyme

    Thee ALL look delicious. We have been opting to have more lunches like the crostini that are simple and quick. I love sage. I make roasted sage bread croutons with thick chunks of wheat bread for my soups. Beautiful photos

  3. Clara

    Wow, talk about an impressive post! You’ve provided such inspiration Ashley. I’m so intrigued by your pickled cherries, will have to try that.

    PS: Loved the photo you posted of your hubby on twitter yesterday. I hope to have a relationship like that!

  4. Emily G.

    Oh my gosh I’m not sure what I want to try first… I can never say no to anything with pesto in it! I also thought of sage as a winter herb, but this definitely proves it can do well in summer dishes as well. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Paula at Dishing The Divine

    I’m with you! I have soooooooooo much sage in my garden. It already starved out the parsley and I think it’s trying to do the same with the thyme and oregano. Thanks for all these fun ideas!

  6. MG Atwood

    Nice, very nice. It’s good to teach this old “sage” a trick or two. Never would have thought of those. Thanks!

  7. Michele

    The recipes sound delicious! Have you ever tried fresh whole fried sage leaves sprinkled with a little salt? They are crunchy and very tasty and addictive!

  8. Grace In Full Measure

    Oh I never thought sage could be used for that! Thanks for the tip. Your planter box of herbs is just so homey and so Jamie Oliver At Home! Love it! 🙂

  9. NicoleD

    The colors of the sage pesto and the cherry are gorgeous together! I wish I was swimming in sage, now.

  10. la domestique

    This is a wonderful post! I’ve got a garden full of sage and love all these ideas, especially pickled cherries sage pesto crostini! Fantastic!

  11. Melissa

    In Love!!!!!! I have been making basil pesto and freezing it so I have fresh all winter long, but never thought of sage. I love it! “Walking through the woods after the rain”, lovely.

  12. Lucia

    Eating the taste of a rainy forest. My garden has been offering giant sized sage leaves. I’ve been hiding in those bushes, thinking about how beautiful it is to take some time alone. I’ll try your pesto, by the way.

  13. Macbezz

    Just made the sage pesto tonight. Delicious! And the pickled cherry crostini were fantastic!

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  15. Tom

    “1/4 cup tablespoons mint” I’m assuming that’s a quarter cup of mint? Am I missing something? Hahaha

  16. Clevergirl

    Oh wow. I had so much sage this year that I googled “sage pesto” and came up with your recipe. I just made a double batch and oh wow soooo good, although I admit to using curly leaf parsley because that’s what’s in my garden. I can hardly wait to use it on some pasta or in a bean salad.

  17. Jeanne Gold

    I’m a little confused about your walnut sage pesto recipe. You wrote “¼ cup tablespoons mint”. So, is it 1/4 cup or 1/4 Tbs … or something else? Thank you. I look forward to trying this. I have an OVER abundance of sage!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Sorry about that – that’s completely confusing. It’s 1/4 cup. And no, I’ve not frozen my pesto cubes only because we use them up so quickly but I can see how that would be a wonderful and convenient trick.

  18. Jeanne Gold

    I forgot to ask: have you ever frozen your pesto in cubes? And if so, how did you do it? Was it like the basil pesto cubes I’ve been reading about?

  19. Theano

    The sage and mint pesto is really good and just what we needed.