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Jerusalem Sage or the Temple Menorah?

Writen by: Neta Yaron
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26/03/2020
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Exactly three years ago today, we published a blog post especially for Passover, in collaboration with the well known chef, Moshe Basson, owner of the Eucalyptus restaurant, who shared a very Jerusalem recipe for stuffed Jerusalem sage leaves.  You can read the original post including a description of a trip through the Farmer’s Market at the Damascus Gate here.

Times have changed a bit and unfortunately, the markets are temporarily closed, but Seder Night is approaching, and perhaps you can find beautiful sage leaves growing near your own home.

The Eucalyptus restaurant is located near the Tower of David, in fact, just across the road. In its first incarnation though, the restaurant was established in the Talpiot neighborhood in 1987, in the Basson family home, under the branches of a huge eucalyptus tree that Moshe himself planted in 1960.

משה בסון

Moshe was born and raised in Jerusalem and his love for the city, the Bible, and tradition can be tasted in each of his special Jerusalem dishes. Who else can make squash gnocchi, figs stuffed with tamarind sauce and pickle soup? Sage is one of the oldest and most common herbs in the Land of Israel. There are several types of sage that are grown in the Jerusalem area and they have medical, nutritional, culinary and decorative uses. Among the many varieties are medicinal sage, grown in spice gardens and used for tea infusions, seasoning and medicines; wild sage that grows in the mountains of Jerusalem and is used for tea infusion; and Jerusalem sage that is used for stuffed vegetables.

Jerusalem sage has a purple-pink blossom. The plant blossoms are branched and legend has it that these branches inspired the design of the seven branched menorah that was in the Holy Temple. There is also a  similarity between the word sage -in Hebrew, MARVAH – and the site of the Temple Mount – MORIAH – which reinforces the connection between the delicious plant and the Temple lamp. Sage reaches the height of flowering just before Passover and if there is a small hill right next to your house, you just may find the impressive  and beautiful sage plant.

In honor of the Passover Seder, Chef Basson agreed to reveal his recipe for Jerusalem sage leaves stuffed with rice and a variety of herbs.

החומרים1

Ingredients (for approx. 50 stuffed leaves)

  • 70 Jerusalem Sage leaves
  • 5 cups of rinsed rice
  • 10 mushrooms, chopped and stir fried in olive oil
  • 5 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup of chopped celery leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 green almonds
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons or more(to taste) olive oil
  • 17 garlic cloves unpeeled

Serving:

  • Lemon quarters, roasted cherry tomatoes

Directions:

Blanch the leaves for 20 seconds in boiling water, a handful at a time

Mix rice with herbs, onions, spices and mushrooms

מערבבים

Add olive oil generously, season and mix

Cut onions into rings and cover the bottom of the pan

ממלאים ומגלגלים

Fill the leaves by putting 2 teaspoons of the filling on the edge of the leaf, fold in the margins and roll inwards

מניחים בסיר ומפרידים בין השכבות בעזרת שיני שום ושקדים ירוקים

Put the stuffed leaves into the pot, scattering garlic and green almonds between the layers

Fill with water until it just covers the top layer, season with olive oil and ½ tsp of salt

Cook covered for 25 minutes, lightly boiling until the liquid evaporates

Take out one leaf, check the rice, and leave it covered for 10 more minutes

מגישים עם פלחי לימון ועגבניות שרי צלויות

Serve warm with lemon quarters and roasted cherry tomatoes

Variation: add 300 grams of ground beef (neck or ribs).

Recipe courtesy of Chef Moshe Basson.  Photos by Ricky Rachman

 Featured Image by Dr. Avishay Teicher CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7388971

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