Pass around a plate of crispy fried sage leaves and you'll be the star of the appetizer show. These light and crunchy little mouthfuls are very 'more-ish'. You can't eat just one! Fresh sage leaves can be quickly fried on their own for a unique garnish, or dipped in this ultra light batter for a crackling finish to some tasty little fritters (that are also gluten free!) [Skip to recipe.]
Last week we had a little break from our normal lives (well, whatever passes for normal these days) and refilled our souls with a trip to a unique corner of Alberta - the Badlands. We saw a lot of amazingly varied landscapes and a lot of silver sage growing in sparse and rugged terrain. Its clean, spicy scent hung in the air, carried far and wide by the wild prairie winds. It inspired me to come home and use the sage leaves still growing in our garden and tucked in our flowerbeds.
*Scroll down past the recipes for a recap and photos of our trip through Alberta's badlands and Dinosaur Trail.
Let's Make Some Crispy Fried Sage Leaf Fritters
These little snacks make a great nibble - the sage flavour is just faintly herbal, coated in a crispy crust. Sweet rice flour makes it extra light and crunchy - they shatter when you bite into them - fun and delicious! I've added extra ground sage into the batter to help boost the flavour of the leaves, which become very mild when fried.
Gather some aromatic fresh sage leaves from your garden. No need to wash them if they're clean and organic. If you do need to rinse them, roll them up in a clean dish towel and tuck the roll into a plastic bag in the fridge. Leave them overnight to dry.
Stir together a simple batter made from sweet rice flour, and egg white, sparkling water, and a few other ingredients.
Dip the sage leaves and fry them in hot oil or beef tallow (for the best flavour) for just a few seconds until they're golden and crispy.
Drain them on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately for a fantastically crunchy little snack to enjoy with a favourite drink.
Go all out and make these amazingly crispy little fritters from fresh sage leaves. The light rice flour tempura-type batter is delicate and crunchy, and can be used to fry other goodies, too.
They're fun-to-eat, crazy-delicious little snacks - much better than chips!
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Sweet rice flour is made from glutinous (sticky) rice and contains no gluten. It makes for extra crispy batter. It can be found in health food aisles, Asian grocery stores, or the Asian aisle in some large grocery stores. It can also be called glutinous rice flour or mochiko rice flour.
Crispy Fried Sage Leaf Fritters
a unique and crunchy little appetizer, or a delectable nibble to serve with drinks
- ½ cup (75gms) sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour/mochiko rice flour)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried ground sage
- 1 large egg white
- ½ cup (120ml) sparkling water
- 20 to 30 large sage leaves, unwashed (or rinsed and dried very well)
- oil or beef tallow for frying, ¼" deep in a small heavy duty skillet (I like cast iron)
- salt for sprinkling
- optional - thin slices of apple or butternut squash to use up the rest of the batter and fry into tasty little fritters
In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet rice flour, baking powder, salt, and sage. Add the egg white and sparkling water and whisk until smooth and no lumps remain.
Prepare a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towel and set it near the stove.
Heat the oil or tallow in the skillet until it is rippling and hot.
Hold each sage leaf by the stem and dip it into the batter, dragging the leaf against the edge of the bowl to wipe off the excess. There may be bare spots where the batter isn't clinging to the leaf. Working quickly, repeat dipping and dragging several times until both sides of the sage leaf are fully coated in batter. Put the coated leaf into the hot fat and repeat with several more leaves until the pan is full with a single layer of sage leaf fritters not touching each other. As soon as one side of each fritter is golden, flip the leaf with a fork or chopsticks to fry the other side. It only takes 30 to 45 seconds per side.
Remove the fried sage leaves with tongs or chopsticks to the paper towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle lightly with salt. Remove each batch of fried sage leaves to a serving plate before adding the next batch of leaves from the hot fat.
Continue until all the sage leaves are coated and fried.
Discard the remaining batter or use it up to coat and fry thin slices of apple or squash, or anything else you feel like battering and frying (green beans, onion rings, thin sweet potato slices, etc.).
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Plain fried sage leaves are crispy little bits great for using as a garnish - they take just minutes to make and add a special touch to top dishes like pasta, soups, stews, etc.
Fried Sage Leaves for Garnish
- large fresh sage leaves, completely dry
- oil or beef tallow for frying, enough to be ¼ inch deep in a small heavy skillet
- fine sea salt
Make sure the sage leaves are completely dry if you've rinsed them. I usually don't rinse sage leaves from my garden if I can see they're clean.
Prepare a plate lined with paper towel and set it close to the stove.
Heat the oil in a small, heavy duty skillet (I like to use cast iron) until it is shimmering.
Add a small handful of sage leaves, enough to float in a single layer. Fry them for 10 to 15 seconds, just until they darken and crisp up. Remove them with a slotted spoon or tongs to the paper towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle them lightly with salt.
Serve as an edible garnish for pasta, meats, stews, casseroles, or on charcuterie platters.
A Quick Recap of our Trip to Alberta's Badlands
Getting out to the prairies refills my soul. For some people to recharge, they need to go to the mountains, others need to stand at the ocean's edge or deep in a sun-dappled forest. For me, standing out in the middle of a vast prairie grassland, with the wind rippling the wild grasses in shimmering waves and the the sky an infinite blue dome overhead . . . that's what does it. I feel grounded and small, just a speck in the vast universe, and as I inhale huge gulps of that clean prairie air, I can feel myself start to expand in my soul, expand to meet the vast space around me. The fettering bands bust off and my heart slowly breathes and fills. I am home.
The prairie is my ocean.
It's more a feeling than a landscape . . . it's the feel of that sky and the wide open spaces.
I lived on the prairies during my most formative years, from age 10 to 15. Our family owned a sugar beet farm in Southern Alberta, near Bow Island. Those were the years I grew to love this landscape, where it entered my soul, and that love has never left.
Last week we drove for hours through Alberta's wide open spaces to get to the unique part of this province that is known as The Badlands - a 35,000 square mile region of dramatic land formations, deep channels, gullies, and towering hoodoos exposing sedimentary layers through millions of years of erosion by wind and water. This area is home to the largest dinosaur bone deposits in the world, with over 50 different species discovered here (and fossilized specimens of over 500 different prehistoric life forms), and boasts two Unesco World Heritage sites (Dinosaur Park and Writing-on-Stone Park).
We picked up our son and daughter-in-law in Calgary then made our way out to the famous Dinosaur Trail, starting at the south end with a quick stop to look out at Horseshoe Canyon. That first view of the Badlands is always breathtaking.
We kept going north on the Dinosaur Trail to hike around Horsethief Canyon, one of our favourite stops. The air everywhere was still very smoky from the forest fires raging in California, but it just made the views all the more mystical.
We always love to clamber down into the canyon to climb among the multilayered hills and crevices of this amazing valley along the Red Deer River.
Our son got some fantastic drone footage. You can see a little glimpse of the magic of this massive river valley where horse rustlers once hid their stolen horses while they changed the brands on them. A little slice of Alberta's history.
video edited by Amanda K. Morales
After overnighting in Drumheller we headed out. The night rain had washed the air clean of smoke, and the scenery was sparklingly clear as we drove, heading for . . .
. . . a picnic and hiking in Dinosaur Provincial Park.
Millions of years of wind and rain have eroded the land to make the most fantastic formations.
The sand and soil was still a bit slick from the night's rain, but it was fun slipping and sliding through them as we hiked the designated loops throughout the park. Everywhere you turned was another breath-taking vista. The Park wasn't very busy, so we got to experience the views without many other people around.
As you make your way through this wild and eerie landscape, you can just imagine coming face to face with a dinosaur; a friendly plant-eating one, you hope! It's easy to slip back in time and picture them roaming freely through these vast riparian badlands.
Then it was on the road again, heading south to near Canada's border with the U.S. It's quite interesting what unusual sights you can come across driving through these prairies that seem to live still in a distant time.
I'd love to know the story of the hangman's noose hanging on this ranch's head gate.
And who's bringing home this dino for a pet?
Then on to the southern part of the province to visit Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. This is a special place for our family; we've come here often through the years. When I lived here in my teen years, I'd come to the park with my Girl Guide troop, or youth group, or camping with the family - this was before the interpretive center was built or the First Nations petroglyphs and rock art were restricted to guided tours.
You can see the hoodoos stretching out along the banks on both sides of the Milk River as far as you can see, and in the distance the blue, blue Sweetgrass Hills in Montana.
Writing-on-Stone Park is one of Alberta's best kept secrets - a special place with unforgettable scenery that leaves its mark on you. You've now moved from a prehistoric dinosaur world (though there have also been important dinosaur remains found in this park, too) to the ancient world and culture of our Indigenous Peoples. The wind whistles through the valley of the Milk River, and you can picture how this land was, and still is, a sacred place for the Blackfoot tribes.
video edited by Amanda K. Morales
We took a guided tour of the writings carved into the sandstone by the Blackfoot peoples hundreds of years ago. These carvings comprise the largest collection of rock art on the North American Great Plains, and last year (2019) the park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site to preserve this important record of Indigenous culture.
There's so much history here.
But it's also a great place to play Hide 'n' Seek! That's what our family has done every time we visited or camped here, and it doesn't matter how big or how old you get, there's no thrill like running around, slipping, sliding, leaping, climbing, crouching, hiding among the hoodoos. It's time to be a kid again.
After many hours playing and hiding in the hoodoos, it was time to head back home.
We returned home from our prairie getaway tired and happy, with many wonderful new memories made.
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