Tuscan cooking: the wisdom of sage

Sage - an essential ingredient in many delicious Italian recipes.

One thing common to most Tuscan homes – be they quaint Tuscan cottages, elegant Tuscan villas, balconied brick homes in a Tuscan village, or a Tuscan farmhouse – is the herbs that you are likely to find growing in the lovely Tuscan gardens.


Arguably the most utilized herbs in Tuscan cooking are sage (salvia) and rosemary (rosmarino), with Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (prezzemolo) a close third and thyme (timo) being close behind.

Many a Tuscan recipe is flavoured with a finely chopped mix of sage, rosemary, salt and pepper ? with many Tuscan kitchens even having a jar of this mixture always on hand to make the delicious, traditional Tuscan recipes.


Despite being best of friends in many recipes, sage and rosemary do not get on in the garden.

Planting them side by side will not produce great results. It is for this reason (and because it looks and smells beautiful) that you will often find shrubs of lavender planted between the two in Italian gardens.

The Italian word for sage, ‘salvia’, has Latin origins in the word for health/safety (if think to the term ‘salvation’, you can see that this Latin root has extended into English also). Originally from the Lain word for being saved (‘salvere’ in Latin, ‘salvare in Italian), until rather recent times in Italian cooking, traditional medicines having been based on the use of herbs and spices, and other food-based remedies.

Brimming with antioxidents, phenolic acid, flavanoids and volatile oils, sage helps with inflamation and asthma, and even helps with brain capacity in terms of being a memory enhancer.

Large, flat sage leaves can be coated in batter and fried. You could also take two leaves, place an anchovy between, and then batter and fry. But mostly, sage is used to add a unique flavour to meat and vegetable dishes.

If you would like to do a small-group hands-on cooking class in Tuscany, learning to make traditional Tuscan recipes, using the best fresh produce, you could sign up for an Italian cookery course in Florence, and perhaps also a market visit where you can learn about the traditional ingredients before heading to the kitchen to turn the products into delicious, typical dishes and then indulging in a delicious lunch made by you! For more information or to register, see: http://www.italy.artviva.com/tours_category/12/cooking_classes_tuscany_florence_venice_rome.

If you’d like to explore Tuscany’s wine country to learn about ? and taste ? delicious Tuscan wines and the meals (and views!) they are best served with, see: http://www.italy.artviva.com/tours_category/14/Tuscany_Tours.

Email us on staff@artviva.com for information on our new Tuscan Villa Tour where you can visit stunning, historic Italian gardens in Tuscany!

Artviva is a proud supporter and member of Slow Food, and specialises in small-group, quality (and fun) tours in Florence/Tuscany, Rome, Venice and beyond. Visit www.artviva.com for more information, or email staff@artviva.com.

For more information on the Slow Food movement, see: http://www.facebook.com/notes/artviva-tours/slow-food-events-whats-on-in-italy-december-2010/174723352557799

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