Sage thrives in a sunny, well-drained spot in my garden

Blog-partner Melissa has her Chimicharri Sauce.  We both grow lots of basil for classic Italian pesto.  But the herb garden recipe that collects the most compliments at my house is my SAGE PESTO.  It’s a great marinate.  Thinned with a little olive oil, it’s a wonderful sauce for meat or roasted vegetables.   We especially like it on pork tenderloin or skinless chicken thighs that have been marinated overnight.  

I make Sage Pesto just like I do the basil, a technique I learned in class at Capri Flavors, the local Italian market and cooking school.   Here’s  a link to my teacher Titina’s recipe–actually it’s more of a process than a recipe– she doesn’t measure, but makes her pesto by taste.   Since the sage is more pungent than basil, I find a little more cheese and pine nuts “sweeten” it up. 

Sage--the other pesto at my house==

You need just 5 ingredients: 

  1. A bunch of sage
  2. A few cloves of garlic
  3. A package of pine nuts
  4. A hunk of Parmesean cheese
  5. Lots of good olive oil

(And Salt and Pepper, of course)

Sage can be a tricky crop to grow here in North Carolina.  Like a lot of silver-leaved plants, our humid summers make it unhappy.  The right spot is the key.  My sage grows well in a well-drained bed by the kitchen walk.  Lots of reflected light from  the concrete drive keeps the leaves dry.  Still sage can get woody, so I replace this perennial herb often.   It’s cheap–$2.50 for a four pack from Big Bloomers–the best herb seedling source around. 

Cut the leaves in May.  (I’m a week or two late)  Wash well, and wrap in towels to dry.  Then get out the food processor and go for it.  The Sage Pesto I make to today will go into half-pint jars.  I label, then freeze them.  Labels are important.  Later in the summer, I’ll make and freeze my basil pesto and the two flavors are hard to tell apart by sight. 

A batch of sage for pesto, washed and ready to towel dry

Fresh herbs like sage are some of the most rewarding plants you can grow.  Parsley, rosemary and sage are always in my garden.  They hold their tasty leaves all winter long.  I grow cilantro in spring and fall, and summer wouldn’t be summer with out fresh basil.   If I only had a tiny plot of soil and sunshine, I would plant herbs.  They add so much. 

Any other good pestos out there?  (I wonder if rosemary would work??)