Taste of Sicilian Summer - Sage


 I have a wonderful copy of Rosemary Hemphill's book Fragrance and Flavour, the growing and use of herbs. The 1965 edition with its' yellowing pages and scuffed olive green paper cover is a treasured remnant of mum's extensive cookery book collection which was divided up between us. In the chapter on Sage she writes how Sage was regarded for centuries for its health giving properties, and quotes an old Proverb "Why should a man die who has Sage in his garden".One of my fondest memories of Sage is picking the large wide leaves in Sicily in the kitchen garden of Case Vecchie ...  the sweet pungent flavour transferred to my hands as I picked bunches to dry. I spent the rest of the day breathing deeply the scent that remained on my hands until it had all vanished. As late afternoon approached, we walked down the hill, and through the century old vineyard towards the old stone cottage where dinner would be served. We were greeted in the garden with a refreshing Aperitif served with these wonderfully surprising treat, Sage Leaves in a Light Beer Batter.

Salvia in Pastilla

These Sage Leaves in a Light Beer Batter are served warm with your favorite Aperitif. The recipe is adapted from the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily.


  • 10 large sage leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups durum wheat flour
  • 1 cup icy cold beer or fizzy mineral water
  • 1 cups olive oil for shallow frying
  • Pinch of salt


The secret to the success of this dish is an icy cold batter and hot oil.

  • Wash and dry your sage leaves
  • Mix together the flour and beer in a bowl until it resembles thick pouring cream.
  • Heat the oil till a drip of batter sizzles in the pan.
  • dip the battered sage leaves in the batter Shallow fry the sage leaves in oil until they puff up and turn golden brown on both sides
  • Remove from the oil and drain of a paper towel.

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and serve warm.