Sage, Salvia officinalis is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, and in modern times is an ornamental garden plant.
Sage has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women's fertility, and more. The Romans introduced it to Europe from Egypt as a medicinal herb. It had a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, with many sayings referring to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called S.Salvatrix (sage the savior), and was one of the ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague.
As a kitchen herb, sage has a slight peppery flavor. In British cooking, it is used for flavoring fatty meats, Sage Derby cheese, poultry or pork stuffing, Lincolnshire sausage, and in sauces. Sage is also used in Italian cooking, in the Balkans, and the Middle East. It is one of the major herbs used in the traditional turkey stuffing for the Thanksgiving Day dinner in the United States.
Sage is an herb that transforms its flavor profile when cooked. Lightly sauteed in brown butter, it becomes sweet and delicate, complimenting many dishes. I use it to garnish pumpkin ravioli, gnocchi, wild mushrooms, poultry and game roasts.