Fried Sage and Manchego Cheese Rolls ~ tender sage leaves are wrapped around tiny chunks of Manchego cheese and then lightly fried for a unique appetizer.
A while back I picked up an old Italian cookbook at a thrift store. One of the recipes that struck me was an unusual appetizer of rolled and fried sage. I happened to get some especially beautiful large sage leaves the other day and they jogged my memory about those rolls. The original involved anchovies—my adaption is even better, if I do say so myself. I just wrapped up little chunks of Manchego cheese in the the leaves, secured them with toothpicks, and fried them in a shallow pan of hot olive oil. A little red wine, a candle…very Tuscan.
Sage leaves have enough body to them that they hold up when fried, and take on the most wonderful flavor and crispness. Fried sage leaves are a delicacy just by themselves, sometimes served with an aioli type dipping sauce, sometimes as a garnish on Italian dishes.
It helps to have medium to large sage leaves for this, so that you can fit a decent size chunk of cheese inside. You can toss the cheese cubes in flour first if you want, that just helps to keep the cheese from melting out of the leaf too fast.
Starting at the tip, roll the cheese up, and secure with a wooden toothpick.
Get all your rolls ready, and heat about 1/4 – 1/2 inch of olive oil in a saute pan. It should be hot enough that the sage sizzles on contact with the oil.
If your oil is deep enough you can stand the rolls upright in the oil and flash fry the whole roll at once. This is the best method because the cheese doesn’t have a chance to leak out. The rolls will fry in about 30 seconds. If you use shallower oil the easiest (and safest) way to do this is to drop the stuffed leaves, toothpick and all, into the hot oil. and use tongs to flip them over and then remove them to drain. Either way it takes a minute or less to fry them. Drain briefly on a paper towel before serving.
The sage leaf gets crisp, the Manchego melts. What more is there to say?
Thanks for pinnng!