October 21st, 2013

Sage Praise


Dear Friends,

Almost an entire month has past since I last visited with you here at Good Food Matters, but be assured that I’ve been busy-busy, hands-on: making good—and beautiful—-food for the cookbook. In addition to the book cover shoot, we’ve had 4 separate photo sessions, working to capture the bounty of produce in this transitional season and the waning light. We’ve garnered over 60 stunning images that I can’t wait to share with you. And the dishes! Passion fruit Pavlova, German-style Pretzels with stout mustard, figs in syrup, figs on flatbread, Cornbread Panzanella, gazpacho with spiced grilled shrimp, ricotta gnocchi with arugula-three herb pesto, lofty strawberry sponge cake…

Patience, patience. It shall happen, in due time.


Meanwhile, what has transpired since I’ve been relegated to the kitchen and studio? I look up from my work and see that fall is upon us. The weather has shifted mightily. Days move apace, with dry, crisp chill in the air. Tomatoes have just about played out in our gardens, and the basil plants are looking rather ragged. No matter. Now the markets brim with all manner of greens, hardy squashes, leeks, onions, and peppers. Now I am ready to prepare dishes using them, aren’t you?

And now, I like to cook with sage.


I should use it in my cooking all year long–but for whatever reason, the grey-green leaf with its musty, woodsy taste, (I think of a forest floor, slightly damp) its paradoxical tough-velvet touch, finds its way into my fall and winter recipes: Larded with garlic into juicy pork roast, scenting cornbread stuffing for turkey, sizzled in brown butter sauce napped over pumpkin ravioli.

There’s nothing faint about my praise for the herb and today’s recipe uses it with vigor. Chicken breasts cut and pounded into thin scallops pick up the sage leaves first in the dredging. (For a great description of how to easily pound the cutlets, check this on Cooking Light’s website.)


I saute the chicken in a meld of butter and olive oil–the best of both!—which gives the coating a golden burnish, as delectable brown bits form in the pan. To this, I add minced garlic and More sage, before I scrape and swirl in the white wine and light cream. The sage is distinct, assertive–for me, pleasingly so. If that concerns you, don’t let it. The wine-cream reduction muffles it, blanketing the chicken.


Serve it with this orzo dish, which is more vegetable than it is pasta. Poblanos, leeks, and butternut squash make a harmony of fall colors, roasted to smoky sweetness. I think you’ll enjoy the undercurrent of mild heat imparted by the peppers.


2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin pieces and pounded
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 sage leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup half-and-half

Slice through the length of each chicken breast into halves or thirds. Using wax paper or plastic wrap, pound them to an even thinness, using a mallet or small skillet.
Mix the flour, salt, pepper, and finely chopped sage together.
Place a large skillet on medium heat. Melt the butter and olive oil together.
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture; dust off the excess, and place into the hot skillet. Brown the chicken, sauteing the pieces for 3-4 minutes on one side, before flipping. Remove the pieces from the skillet as they are finished, placing them into a baking dish. Keep them warm.
After you have browned and removed all the chicken, add the garlic and sage to the skillet. Saute for a minute, then pour in the white wine. Let it bubble and reduce by half as you stir it in the skillet, scraping up the browned bits. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the half-and-half. Stir well. The sauce should thicken nicely. Taste for seasonings. Pour hot sauce over warm chicken scallopine and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings


1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into bite-sized cubes
2 large leeks, carefully washed, dried and chopped (discard tough dark green leaves)
2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
3+tablespoons olive oil
black pepper
1/2 pound orzo

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place the butternut squash cubes onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and black pepper, and toss well to coat all the pieces.
Place chopped leeks and poblanos onto a separate baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and black pepper, and toss well to coat the vegetables.
Place both baking sheets into the oven. Roast the butternuts for 15-18 minutes, roast the leeks and poblanos for 12-15 minutes. Rotate the pans about halfway through the cooking time.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil on medium high heat. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions (about 9-10 minutes.)
Drain the orzo and return it to the pot.
Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven. Scrape the butternuts in their roasting oil, and the poblano-leeks in their oil into the pot with the orzo. Toss the mixture well.

Makes 6-8 servings


Here’s a glimpse!

Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook cover

Posted in Meats/Poultry, Pastas, Recipes

18 Responses to “Sage Praise”
  1. Rach Says:

    As Diana Ross sang – I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it……or was that the Pointer sisters? Either way I am so excited and I just can’t hide it about your book. I am excited about the chicken, sage and orzo too, it looks delicious and I am sure I will like the I undercurrent of mild heat imparted by the peppers and that musky, ever so slightly grumpy note from the sage.
    love from Rome x

  2. ernestine Says:

    Can’t wait to have your book :)
    On Sage
    agee with your words describing this huge plant
    that is among my seasonal herbs.
    A new recipe idea
    you have given me for the Fall and Winter days.

  3. Kath Says:

    OOh a cover, that is exciting! I love what you say about sage, it’s true that it doesn’t seem that you should use it in summer.

  4. Barbara Says:

    Sage is so under-used, isn’t it? And I agree we always think of fall when we use it…because of stuffing? Every once in a while I find an unexpected recipe using sage. One of my favorites is a simple spaghetti squash with sage and browned butter.
    It’s also perfect with chicken…your dish looks delicious. I love the leeks in the orzo too, another of my favorite ingredients.
    So looking forward to hearing more about your cookbook, Nancy. So exciting!

  5. Juliana Says:

    Wow Nancy, you sure are very busy…I look forward to the cookbook…
    This chicken with sage cream sounds and looks fantastic, and I must admit that I have not used sage in my cooking…thank you for the inspiration. The orzo with butternut squash looks awesome in terms of color and flavors…yum! What else can I say?
    Thank you so much for the encouraging words, it really means a lot having all this support from you.
    Have a lovely week my dear :D

  6. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Wow this looks delicious. And your chicken looks perfectly cooked. Go Nancy!

  7. Cathy Says:

    Nancy, your orzo is calling to me! I can imagine all the flavors and how they would work well together. I’ve never thought of roasting leeks, but I will try this soon. Stay tuned–I have an idea. Also, the “Third Thursday” cover is so inviting. It’s going to make people want to open the book to decide which dishes they want to cook first. I’m excited for you!

  8. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    oh you better bet I am going to be if not the first then the top 10 to get my hands on that book when its out! I can’t wait and the thought of cornbread panzanella is simply GENIUS!

  9. Wendy Says:

    Those two dishes were so delicious at our own Third Thursday Potluck—-

  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    thank you all for the kind words about the cover—there will details in the coming weeks, I hope. Such a lengthy process, birthing this book!

    Rach—whether it’s Ross or the Pointers (the latter, I think) doesn’t matter–it IS indeed exciting.

    Cathy-I think that you’ll enjoy that roasted trio of veggies with orzo, and I’ll be curious to see what you come up with—in your focaccia, perhaps?

  11. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    Beautiful cover. I can’t wait to hold your book.

  12. goodfoodmatters Says:

    thank you, Michele. I can’t wait for you to hold it either! I hope your move has gone well and you are getting settled into your new abode.

  13. Tammy Says:

    In praise of sage! Love it. When is the book available to us Nancy?

  14. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Tammy! looks like a Spring 2014 release—I will be sure to keep everyone posted, as I learn the details.

  15. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    Nancy, I am so happy to be working on your upcoming cookbook. It has been lots of fun to food & prop style such a beautiful cover for you, my long time friend. Styling the inside images and choosing the props to enhance but not overpower yours and the Third Thursday Potluck members (myself included!) recipes was such as special project for me.

    Now to things “sage”. I love it. Sage is just one of favorite flavors and I never seem to use it except in the fall and winter as well. The Scallopine with Sage is just delicious looking. I think I will now go wander in my garden and pick some sage and work it into my dinner tonight.

    Great post.

  16. Beth Says:

    I’m definitely adding this to my list of recipe to try. It looks fabulous!

  17. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    It sounds like you have been very busy in a good way…just like this recipe. :)

  18. heather Says:

    I LOVE the book cover, makes me want to go right and buy one! This sage dish is so delicious, thank you for sharing!

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