Sage is less well-known than other herbs but proves to be versatile.

Sage is one of those herbs people are often asking what to do with. It's definitely not as popular as some other herbs, but it is actually pretty versatile. It's often paired with pumpkin, and features in plenty of Italian cooking.

I first learned to love it eating the sage fried eggs at Wellington's Nikau Cafe, which I've tried to recreate here. I had a huge sage plant in a flat I lived in recently and, aside from picking bunches to put in a vase in the kitchen, I learned to use it more in cooking. It's a great match with pasta, and this browned butter spaghetti is the perfect example of a few pantry staples and fresh herbs becoming an easy and delicious dinner. And, for a twist on cheese scones, sage adds fragrance to a classic recipe.

Sage fried eggs

This recipe is inspired by Wellington's excellent Nikau Cafe, which is famous for their sage fried eggs.

Serves 1

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1 tsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 fresh free-range eggs
Small bunch fresh sage
Salt and pepper
Toast, to serve

Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan until it starts to bubble slightly. Add the sage leaves and as they start to crisp, move them aside and carefully add the eggs.

Swirl and tilt the pan, and with a tablespoon, lift the oil from the pan and pour over the edge of the eggs, to help get a crisp edge.

Cook until the yolk is cooked through to your liking, then season and serve on toast.

Sage and cheddar scones

These are adapted from the famous cheese scone recipe from the Ministry of Food cafe in Wellington.

Photo / Michael Craig
Photo / Michael Craig

cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp finely chopped sage, plus additional leaves
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated (or use tasty)
1 cup full-cream milk

1 Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl, then mix in the sage and the cheese.

2 Make a well in the centre, and add the milk. Gently mix with a wooden spoon, then turn out on to a bench lightly dusted with flour. Shape into a rectangle about 3cm high, and then cut into rectangles (makes about 8).

3 Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and add a sage leaf to the top of each scone.

4 Bake at 220C for 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp on top.

Browned butter and sage spaghetti

Pangritata is basically crisp-fried bread-crumbs, which pair extremely well with pasta dishes.

Photo / Michael Craig
Photo / Michael Craig

Serves 1

¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 Tbsp chopped sage
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

In a frying pan, add the oil and breadcrumbs, and as it begins to crisp and toast, add the chilli, sage, and garlic. Fry until richly golden, then set aside.

For the pasta
Enough spaghetti for one, cooked until al dente
1 Tbsp butter
1 small bunch sage leaves, roughly chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 garlic cloves, crushed

Heat the butter in a frying pan until it starts to brown and caramelise - you will see small flecks. Add the sage and allow the leaves to crisp slightly. Add the chilli and garlic, Season well, then mix to combine. Add the drained spaghetti, and toss well to combine. Heat through, and then serve with parmesan and the pangritata.