Italian Herb Rub Recipe

In spite of the appearance of these herbs, I assure you they’re perfectly legit.
No, I didn’t open up my Pink Floyd double-album to remove any seeds. And no, I wasn’t listening to The Moody Blues at full-volume on my headphones hoping my mom wouldn’t smell anything funny (even though we rolled up a towel and pushed it against the bottom of the door.) And no, I no longer have my strobe light from many years ago when we’d be, um, getting-groovy down in my parents basement, laughing uncontrollably about something that any sane person would have found completely meaningless…as we did, the next day. But they sounded like good ideas at the time. Right?

So now that I’m a law-abiding adult, I get my rush cooking, and this is my stash. My friend Judy showed me how to make this easy herb mixture and now I make it every summer, making sure I’ll have enough to last me through the next twelve months.

It’s simply a mixture of fresh rosemary and sage, all chopped up with garlic and coarse salt. Since we’re just about at the end of fresh garlic season, I made sure to snag a few of the tender, violet-colored bulbs at the market, bringing them up to my nose to ensure they’re aromatic and pungent. Green garlic’s also very easy to peel; the fleshy skin merely slips right off, so you’ll have plenty of time to raid the pantry, on the rampage for anything sweet, just in case you get the munchies.

To make this herb mixture, take a very large bunch of fresh sage and pick the leaves off. Then take a large bunch of rosemary and strip off the oily leaves as well. A good proportion is about 2 to 3 parts sage leaves to 1 part rosemary. Then take about 8 small peeled garlic cloves and a heaping tablespoons of coarse salt (I use grey salt from Brittany) then chop it all up until the herbs are very fine, as shown. Discard any sticks or seeds.

Then spread the chopped mixture on a baking sheet and let it dry for about three days. (Hint: Don’t keep it near an open window where their might be a breeze. It would be a total bummer if you wasted your stash.) Once dry, store your herb in a tighly-sealed in a jar. Dude.


I use it as an instant rub over poultry, tuna filets, and meat; since I always have some on hand, it’s simple to mix with some good olive oil and rub in in well before roasting.
Judy likes to toss a small fistful in a bowl of olive oil as a dipping sauce, too.
I tasted it once, and found it totally awesome. Although for some reason, we found it hysterically funny.

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  • August 8, 2006 9:20am

    Hi David (or should that be High David??!)
    Mmmm, what a great idea – and so easy! I must give this a try. Wonder what would happen if you baked the mixture in a cookie? Lol.

  • August 8, 2006 9:46am

    Great post. I am definitely going to make this before summer is out. The fresh garlic here is amazing right now.

  • August 8, 2006 10:18am

    I just happen to have all the ingredients (except the salt) growing in my garden–what a happy accident.

  • J. Bo
    August 8, 2006 12:34pm

    That pork roast (it is pork and not veal, yes?) looks incredible, David! Did you brine it?

  • August 8, 2006 12:57pm

    smells gorgeous to me!

  • Lu
    August 8, 2006 2:38pm

    Here in Chicagoland ‘burbs, I cannot get fresh garlic – of which I am aware. Will dry garlic work in this rub? Thanks.

  • August 8, 2006 3:44pm

    Jeanne: I don’t know. I’ve only baked it in brownies ; )

    J. Bo: The pork was brined. I used the guidelines in The Zuni Cookbook, by Judy Rodgers, except I added allspice, and cassonade sugar. I like to brine for 2-3 days before roasting.

    Lu: Can’t get fresh garlic? I order you to move…at once!

  • cj
    August 8, 2006 4:56pm

    yo, dude, you sure you didn’t smoke that stuff?

  • Susan
    August 8, 2006 5:40pm

    David, this is so timely–the sage and rosemary are taking over my tiny urban garden plot! I’ll try it with the greenmarket garlic I picked up last Friday. Not green and new, but fresh. And there’s plenty more sage and rosemary if the first batch doesn’t work.

    As to removing stems and seeds, well, that’s just common sens, no?

  • August 8, 2006 6:02pm

    very cool knife!

  • s'kat
    August 8, 2006 7:48pm

    Dude, that is, like, a totally trippy mixture. Rock on, brutha!

  • August 8, 2006 10:47pm

    Very timely post. And it is great idea. There is a trattoria in Berkeley called Trattoria La Siciliana that serves a dipping sauce called Olio della Mamma that is very close to this. The only difference is the addition of red and black pepper I think. Totally yummy.

  • August 9, 2006 3:46am

    Great idea! I’ve been freezing herbs for 2 weeks now – it’s a tedious job but I but they taste so good in winter. I have a huge herb garden and was planning on attacking the sage today…right after I finish with the dill pickles..I mean cornichons. I’m going to to this as well!

  • Ling
    August 9, 2006 8:18am

    When you say “large bunch”, how “large” do you mean?

  • August 9, 2006 8:45am

    Ling: If you’re an average-sized adult, put your hands together as if you’re praying. Now pull your hands apart, but keep the tips of your fingers from each hand touching each other. A large bunch is the amount that you could snugly pack into that space.

  • August 9, 2006 9:04am

    David, what if your hands are teeny tiny? Does that still qualify as a large bunch? I’ve been told my hands are dainty and I’d hate to mess up this recipe because of that. By the way, next time you break out your stash, invite me over ok?

  • August 9, 2006 11:24am

    I just love sage, and since I am gonna have to sacrify the remains of my rosemary pot, I am gonna have to make this to flavour my winter dishes!

  • debbie
    August 9, 2006 2:25pm

    Good in wild rice stuffing too–can you get wild rice in Paris?–I’ve done it with Granny Smith apples and pecans and onions in the mix, but it would probably also be good with chopped pickled lemon and cracked olives

  • August 9, 2006 5:08pm

    First time reader here. Great post and beautiful pictures! I’ll be back again!

  • Jess
    August 9, 2006 6:57pm

    dude. your instruction on how to cup a large bunch was poetic. herb mixture sounds nice, too.

  • Jessica
    August 10, 2006 12:05am

    As delicious as the herbs look (I’ll be following your advice and making this), I want the KNIFE. Beautiful. :-)

  • August 10, 2006 1:19am

    It’s a Katana knife, from Calphalon. I love mine (I have two)…and I noticed they’re on sale at Amazon.

  • Jessica
    August 10, 2006 11:58am

    Ooo, thanks for the referral, David… and me with a birthday coming up. :-)

  • August 24, 2006 2:30am

    I’m so glad someone else asked about the knife. I’m a Wusthof user and a Shun voyeur, but that knife is just sexy… great photos too.

  • August 16, 2008 10:11am

    I’m making this today! Thanks for the recommendation. I’m thinking there will be lots of good uses for it.

  • September 5, 2008 7:58pm

    Hi David, What a great site. I will make this tomorrow. My herb garden is full and waiting. Thanks for sharing.

  • September 27, 2009 10:06am

    David: Made this recently and am marinating a pork tenderloin for grilling/roasting and want permission to print recipe with credit and a link to your page in a blog I co-author with my partner. Thanks for your consideration. Charles Price

  • David
    September 27, 2009 1:30pm

    Hi Charles: You’re welcome to adapt the recipe for your site. You can read a post I did about recipe attribution for guidelines. Glad you like it!!

  • March 4, 2010 6:47pm

    Oh Mediterranean food is good.

    I get garlic from Costco and surprisingly its just the best. Really big bulbs for not a lot of money (there are no farmers markets near us, so we make do). And I get through the stuff because there are so many wonderful recipes like this to choose from.


  • penandra
    July 12, 2010 2:08pm

    I just love the web . . . I started out with one google this morning and then spotted a link then spotted a link then spotted a link which eventually led me here (after checing out SEVERAL recipes on your site — i.e. carmelized white chocolate cake, dulce de leches, dulce de leches brownies, altoid brownies . . . oh, the mind boggles!). Anyway, thank you for the posting and for your delightful blog . . . I’m wondering if there’s a mixture like this for a mixture with oregano . . . I already have plans for this evening for this recipe . . . but have a very prolific oregano plant with which I would also like to do something — I’m thinking even just the oregano, garlic, and salt would be a start . . . suggestions on what else you might add to the mix?