Sage (‘salvia’), together with rosemary (‘rosmarino’, or in dialect, ‘ramerino’) are two of Tuscany’s favourite herbs.
Often found growing in gardens and balconies, these two spices get along so well in the kitchen. Yet surprisingly, in the garden they don’t really get on. In fact, Tuscans will usually plant the Tuscan lavender in between as Tuscan gardener legend has it that the rosemary has a negative effect on the sage.
In one Artviva staff garden in Tuscany, we have planted both plants (at a distance and with the customary lavender between). The house belonged to our grandparents, who had a lovely garden, including a great collection of carefully-kept crimson roses which seem to be in near constant bloom as a constant gift from our little terrain.
Whilst the slow-growing rosemary is quite robust and will take to most sunny conditions, sage is notoriously famous for being a tad more difficult. Requiring the exact sun exposure and temperatures, as well as being quite finicky about the amount of water, it can be quite difficult to grow.
In our yard throughout the generations in fact, sage has been planted in balcony pots and in various places around the garden, but has not always taken so well.
This year however, we have found the magic spot in a shady corner with great drainage where the sage is not just growing, it is near-on growing out of control!
The lusciously large leaves are the perfect sage shade of silver-tinged green. Being flat and wide, they are great for using in a variety of recipes, none as simple and delicious as the typical Tuscan recipe of ‘Salvia Fritta’ – fried sage leaves.
There are at least four traditional Tuscan recipes to make this great starter or side dish. So simple are they that we decided to try two of them at the same time to do a ‘fried sage tasting’.
The first fried sage recipe is to take some breadcrumbs, which we make by taking 1- or 2-day old bread (or fresh bread baked in the oven for a few minutes on a rack, and not a solid traym, until it is crunchy), which we simply grate on a greater or pop in the food processor to make homemade breadcrumbs. We add in some freshly ground pepper and salt and mix together then put into a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk an egg with a pinch of salt until it is frothy. Take a third bowl and place some plain flour.
Then wash and pat dry the sage leaves, before passing them firstly in the flour, then the egg mix, and finally the breadcrumbs.
Heat some oil in a frying pan and once it is hot, carefully place the leaves in. Turn after just a moment or two when the coating has browned. Place on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
This entire process to prepare and cook this delicious Tuscan starter or side-dish takes only a few minutes.
Even simpler again is to just pass the washed and dried sage leaves in the egg then the flour, then fry. Serve immediately sprinkled with salt.
There is yet a third and fourth version of this recipe we are looking forward to making – a wonderful thing to do in Tuscany to prepare delicious recipes using home-grown traditional herbs.
The third fried sage recipe requires the making of a batter, whilst with the forth you can even take two sage leaves and place an anchovy between the two, pinning them together with a toothpick, before passing them through the batter and frying.
To learn about the traditional Italian ingredients and learn to make delicious, typical dishes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you, we have hands-on cooking classes in Florence.
If you are looking for some great thing to do in Tuscany, and would like to explore the Tuscan countryside, you can visit a Tuscan villa on the Taste of Tuscany at the Villa wine tour. Explore the historic wine estate before undertaking a wine tasting. Tread through the terrain, enjoying spectacular views of the Tuscan countryside up-close and personal.
Stroll through the Tuscan countryside, join us for a Perfect Morning in Tuscany small-group walking tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide.
If you would like to immerse yourself in the Tuscan countryside and be part of the scenery that has inspired so many great artworks, we have a small-group Best of Tuscany tour visiting Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, and stopping for lunch and wine tasting at an award-winning wine estate. See the highlights of Tuscany in one spectacular day tour from Florence – Best of Tuscany small-group tour.
To explore other areas of Italy, can check out our website to read more about the tours we have to offer in Florence,Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more. We offer outstanding experiences in Florence, Venice,Rome, Cinque Terre and beyond.
We also offer private tours that cater to your every desire. From Florence (and Tuscany) to Rome, Venice to the Cinque Terre and beyond, we are at your beck and call – just as we are should you wish to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Visit our site www.italy.artviva.com for more wonderful things to see and do in Italy (besides, of course, just meeting the Artviva staff!).