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.
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.
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.
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)
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.