Cookbook Profile

Fried Sage and Caper Pesto
with Fresh Pecorino

Makes about 1/2 cup


Frying sage leaves mellows their intense flavor and adds a nutty crispness to this pesto. Use it with pasta, grilled or roasted meats, or as a spread for grilled bread with tomatoes and mozzarella.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup lightly packed fresh sage leaves
1 medium-size garlic clove, smashed
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons small capers, drained
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Tuscano or Sardo cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a small skillet until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add the sage leaves in several batches and fry until crisp, about 15 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Let the oil cool.

2. In a large mortar using a pestle, pound the garlic and salt into a paste. Add the parsley and capers and pound until coarsely puréed. Add the crisp sage leaves and pound until fine. Add 2 tablespoons of the sage oil in a thin stream, pounding and stirring, until fairly smooth. Add the cheese, taste for salt, and season with pepper. Will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

Food Processor Method: Pulse the garlic and salt together in a mini food processor until finely chopped. Add the parsley and capers and pulse until finely chopped. Add the fried sage leaves and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, add 2 tablespoons of the sage oil in a thin stream and process until fairly smooth. Add the cheese and pulse until combined. Taste for salt and season with pepper.


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Get Saucy
Make Dinner a New Way Every Day with Simple Sauces, Marinades, Dressings, Glazes, Pestos, Pasta Sauces, Salsas, and More

by Grace Parisi
Harvard Common Press
Hardcover, $32.95, 1-55832-236-1
Paperback, $17.95, 1-55832-237-X
Recipe reprinted by permission.


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This page created April 2005