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Debbie Major, our doyenne of rustic cooking, salutes the ancient Romans, who introduced sage to Britain. She brings this hardy, flavourful ingredient bang up to date with recipes that show off the leafy herb’s versatility


“One of the things I love about sage is that, as a woody perennial, it stays alive in my garden throughout winter, allowing me to add herby flavour to many of my favourite comfort dishes.

Indigenous to southern Europe, sage was probably, like so many heritage ingredients, brought to Britain by the Romans. Centuries ago it was used more for its remedial properties (its Latin name, salvia, comes from the verb to heal).

In the kitchen, smaller, younger leaves can be used whole, but I remove the tough stalks and central ribs from larger, more mature leaves before chopping. Some people find sage overpowering, and I wouldn’t recommend adding it to dishes in copious amounts as it can leave a medicinal taste. On the plus side, it cuts through oily or fatty foods, which makes it a good match for pork, goose and duck. It also partners well with bread, stuffing, dumplings and savoury scones (especially cheesy ones).

When it’s raw, the flavour of sage is quite harsh, but when it hits hot fat – particularly olive oil – something magical happens. Small deep-fried sage leaves make great nibbles with drinks, and they’re a good garnish, too.”


The ingredients sage loves…

• Apples

• Chicken

• Cooked white beans

• Eggs

• Goose and duck

• Cheddar, parmesan and goat’s cheese

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About delicious. Magazine

May brings longer, warmer days and bank holidays, perfect for Peter Gordon's new salads, John Whaite's easy sharing feasts, meat-free dinner party mains and recipes that cook in the oven while you walk in the countryside. There's a 16-page section for Sabrina Ghayour to share her Middle Eastern-inspired cooking as well as new asparagus recipes, a guide to choux pastry and Ben Tish's salt hake fritters. And finally, we look for the best cheese toastie in the world.