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Garden to Kitchen: Holiday Scent of Sage

Nov 29, 2012

Garden to Kitchen: Holiday Scent of Sage

Sage is a scent that awakes memories of holidays past. It is the stuff of musky perfumes, fragrant Christmas candles and, of course, aromatic messages of great meals cooking in the kitchen. Sage wraps us in the warmth as well as the chill of the season.

Evocative Aromas of the Season
Scent plays a major role in the work and life of Los Angeles noir mystery novelist Denise Hamilton, who weaves it through her novels and also writes a column on perfumes called Uncommon Scents for the Los Angeles Times. Hamilton says that certain fragrances “evoke both the melancholy of winter and the anticipation of joyous holidays.”

Among these perfumes, Hamilton counts the “old-school Italian cologne” Pino Silvestre. She describes it as mixing the scent of Clary Sage (Salvia slarea var. turkestanica ‘Piemont’) with a rich, complicated potpourri ranging from lemons and lavender to bigarade duck sauce and juniper. It’s a heady description that makes you want to light a sage candle and nestle into a couch with one of the author’s books.

Just reading about Pino Silvestre might also make you want to create an earthy perfume of your own by chopping fresh sage and cooking up some fine holiday memories in the kitchen. Here are three delicious suggestions.

Vegetarian Ravioli in Sage Cream Sauce
Hope Pryor created the vegetarian recipe “Ravioli in Sage Cream Sauce,” which the CooksRecipes.com website describes as a cheese ravioli “enrobed in a creamy, sage-infused sauce.” That sensual description might make you blush.

Then again, it might make you lust for a plate of naked raviolis dressed up in the sage sauce, which includes white wine and whipping cream. Top it with Parmesan cheese for an evening of sage-infused culinary sin.

Savory Sage Pot Roast
This is a time-tested favorite from the Taste of Home website and publishing company, which emphasizes simple home cooking. Rubbed sage, a product made from culinary sages, such as Salvia fruticosa, takes it a fragrant step beyond standard pot roasts.

After browning the beef, you rub it with dry sage and season limit other seasonings to salt, pepper and beef broth. Potatoes, carrots and onions cooked with the roast increase the complexity of its flavor.

Add a crisp green salad and French bread to make this a complete comfort food celebration.

Potato Soup with Sage & Walnut Pesto
Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine website notes that its “Creamy Potato Soup with Sage and Toasted-Walnut Pesto” is unlike the one mom used to make. It is lighter due to less cheese and no cream or milk. The creaminess comes from a puree of russet potatoes, caramelized onions, chicken stock and olive oil.

Pecorino cheese is added to the pesto, which contains lots of fresh sage and chopped walnuts. You swirl a dollop into each bowl of soup. Serve it as a starter or as a main course with homemade whole-grain bread, tender asparagus and a fresh berry crisp for dessert.

Pleasant Meals and Fragrant Memories
Cooking with fresh, homegrown culinary sages (Salvia spp.) is one of our favorite ways to celebrate what we do at Flowers by the Sea, which is to grow the best ornamental and edible sages available. We wish you equally pleasant meals and fragrant memories of holidays past and present.


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Plants mentioned in this article