Featured Herbs: Lovage and Sage

Featured Herbs: Lovage and Sage

Part of Ep. 803 Gourds, Ponds and Herbs

Step into the kitchen with Shelley as she prepares a dish using sage and lovage--a plant with a strong flavor much like celery.

Premiere date: Aug 26, 2000

Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Lovage is not as well known in this country as it is in Europe, particularly Germany. But it gets used a lot in my kitchen. The strong celery flavor is great in soups and stews. And it doesn't diminish in cooking, so I tend to use it fresh and dried. However, here's an herb that we all know very well. This is sage. It's usually plays a starring role in our Thanksgiving turkey. The flavor tends to complement fatty poultry and other meats. It also makes a nice tea when blended with lemon balm and spearmint leaves. However, I have to admit, I don't use it that much in my kitchen as much as I use the lovage. The fresh leaves have kind of a strong, bitter, astringent flavor. But you take these same strong-flavored leaves, you dip them in a flour-egg batter and they're transformed into something wonderful. And that's the recipe I'm going to show you.

This is deep-fried sage leaves. It's very simple. You really will enjoy the results. You start out with half a cup of flour. This is white flour I'm using. You can also make it with whole wheat flour, and that's what it looks like. It has a stronger flavor and has a little heavier consistency. But to the half-cup of flour, I'm going to add a speck of salt. And this is a half-cup of sparkling mineral water. You have to use the sparkling kind with the carbonation, you need that. Add a tablespoon of oil. This is canola oil. Olive oil is also fine, whatever your tastes. And I'm going to use a wooden whisk to whip them up to get this well blended. This shouldn't really be a thick batter. It should be very light. I'll try to get most of the lumps out. And to that, I'm going to add one egg white that's been whipped to stiff peaks. I'm just going to fold that right in. Again, blend this well. I'll get out the last few lumps, here. And this is the batter for deep-fried sage leaves. From here, it's very simple. You take your leaves, dip them in the batter on both sides. Then, fry them in hot oil, about 350 degrees. Again, I use canola oil. You can do it with olive oil, it's really a matter of your own taste. And you have to watch these very carefully. They will fry up fairly quickly. You don't want them to get too burned. You want them golden brown.

Now, this recipe is actually kind of a combination of two different recipes. It's part my dad's recipe for beer batter fish. In fact, if you substitute beer for the mineral water, it's great for fish. And it's also part of a recipe for the deep-fried sage leaves that I lost a couple of years ago. That's where the egg white comes in. Here's the finished product, deep-fried sage leaves. Serve them warm. Sit back and watch people try to figure out what they're eating.

Growing sage is very easy in the garden. It's a native of southern Europe, so give it full sun, well-drained soil and warmth. I have the most success with this common variety, but there are also varieties with more colorful leaves. There's also a tender perennial called Pineapple Sage. I grow that in a pot, so I can bring it indoors at the first sign of frost.

This is great recipe to get to know quite a number of herbs. It works for lovage leaves. And you can deep fry parsley leaves, as well. It tastes great.


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