Mar 22, 2010

Fried sage recipe

Frittura mista noun; Italian assorted fried platter, similar to Japanese tempura. A mixture of vegetables, herbs, meat, cheese and fish which are dipped in a light batter and quickly deep fried.

In my frittura mista platter–along with crisp morsels of ribbony mozzarella in carrozza, tasty calamari and shrimp fritters, feather-light fried zucchini blossoms, tiny chicken nuggets, a handful of sweet potato French fries, and golden fried artichoke hearts–I always include a batch of deep-fried sage leaves.

The key element in proper frying is the batter. It must be very cold and fluffy, while on the other hand, the frying vegetable oil should be very hot. Quantity is also important, don't spare on the oil, glug glug away. The more the better.

1 cup large sage leaves
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 glass of beer, chilled or 1 glass of chilled sparkling water (I use either Peroni beer , or San Pellegrino water)
Oil for frying
Sea salt

Wash the leaves under cold running water and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a mixing bowl, blend a glass of chilled sparkling water or beer, flour and a small pinch of salt until fluffy. Blend using a wire whip to mix and tweak quantities in order to obtain the perfect "pastella" (batter). It should runny, not thick. But not watery. Also, don't over-blend. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet, frying pan or a wok. Ideally the correct frying temperature should never be below 180° C (350° F). If you don't have a cooking thermometer (I don't), the best way to tell if the oil is hot enough, is checking to see if the heat has made it less syrupy. It should rather be more on the liquid side. Gently swirl the pan and see: if circle ripples form, the oil is ready for frying. You can also try dropping a droplet of batter in the oil to see if it sizzles.

Dip the leaves one at a time in the chilled batter and deep fry in plenty scalding olive oil in small batches. They will puff up and turn golden quickly, 40-50 seconds on each side. Pick them up with a pair of tongs and briefly park them on paper towel before serving hot, sprinkled with more salt if need be.

Buon appetito!

All images courtesy of Autumn Azure for Home Cook Project


  1. What a lovely recipe, thanks! Sage is too often overlooked and is an important ingredient of saltimbocca.

  2. Sweet and savory greetings from Frog Hollow Farm. Love fried sage leaves - so flavorful! Ciao, Bella!

  3. oh my god! please live next door to me and accept me as your best and most appreciative food friend.

    this looks so good! i love the lightness of it. it reminds me of panko breadcrumbs in some way. what do you think about that?

    i am going to have to start copying your recipes into my own special recipe folder.

    wow! and thank you!

    ps fried zucchini blossoms? send me directly to heaven.

  4. are killing me fast can you get me one of those

  5. Fried sage leaves!! Memories of my dear grandmother!

  6. Ah! As soon as you said there was ale in the batter, you had me! Yum!

  7. Beautiful--must make soon! How many inches (or centimeters!)of oil do you use?

  8. Wow I can't wait for my sage plants to leaf out a bit...smiles

  9. Yummy....yummy..I must try it....

    Thank you for your amazing receipes!


    ♥ Robin ♥

  10. Thank you friends for your visit and kind words!

    Brett, welcome to the kitchen. I'm happy you brought the wine! ;) (question for you: is prosecco OK with fried food?)

    FH Farm Girl, I love the perfumy punch of this delicay.

    kj, This is made with batter, the breadcrumbs are used for other fried dishes. Never tried Panko, but I heard it's quite versatile.

    Brian, I could try FedExing them over to you... smiles.

    Joe, your nonna made these too? Lovely.

    Jim, the trick is in the ale!

    Lori, I'll FedEx some to you too.
    (imagine the greasy envelope?)

    Giovanna, I use a deep wok, and I pour in about a cup of peanut oil. I fry in small batches and then save the oil in a sealed container for next time. If I were to use a skillet I'd fill it 1/2-inch from the rim!

    Emom, you are so lucky to harvest your own!!

    Robin, thank you very much!

  11. Hi Lola ! And what should one drink with all that ?!? I'm sure that is a very important question...

    And I like where you said these can be FedEx-ed, if you ship from Italy in the late afternoon, I should have them here in France first thing in the morning ! Mmmm, yeah, I really like that idea !

  12. Ciao Owen!
    I was thinking along the lines of a Spumante for this. I somehow feel it is more appropriate for a crunchy fried aromatic herb. So I would suggest either a Spumante Golfo del Tigullio, or a Gavi Spumante.

    Ah, if only I could "skype" foods to my far away friends, we could have dinner together every day!


  13. (skips over the delicious recipe, looks briefly at the gorgeous photos, resolves to try it in a year's time)

    Hello Lola, didn't want to just look and run


  14. I love fried sage leaves. And our plant is in full bloom right now

  15. Madame FF, I'm with you 100%: during a diet, this site is off limits! Hang in there, you're doing great.
    Theresa, ohh you lucky thing!! Go ahead and harvest some for antipasto then.


  16. Oh my goodness! I always make sage and brown butter sauce and love how the sage gets all crispy and crackly. This recipe must be to die for. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  17. Cara,
    These look fantastic and a nice glass of sparkling is perfect yes?

  18. Oh, if that doesn't look amazingly delicious! I love sage and one of my favorite recipes is potato gnocchi with cheese, and sage leaves sauteed in olive oil. We sort of made up our own recipe on our honeymoon some 20 years ago and it's still one of our faves!!

    Wishing you a delicious day!! Love, Silke

  19. Carissima, I wished I could help myself to a few bites here! I love sage prepared in this manner.

  20. Internet is very slow here - just read your comment and question ;)
    Prosecco would be fun with this dish with the fizz cutting through.
    Still salivating!!