Borage – a forgotten gem

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“The sprigs of borage in wine are of known virtue to revive the hypochondriac and cheer the hard student”     John Evelyn, Acetaria

Borage had its fans as long ago as Evelyn writing in 1699.

This herb is a bit out of fashion now – you can’t buy a bag of borage – but you can easily grow it and its well worth it. Borage has a very high nutrition content and you can eat both the leaves and flowers.

The young leaves have the freshness of cucumber and the larger leaves can be cooked like spinach. The leaves are hairy, but this slight prickliness is very superficial and dissolves completely in cooking.

The flowers make pretty ice cubes – just place washed borage flowers into an ice cube tray and top up with water. Borage flowers are also perfect to give a bit of glamour and cucumber flavour to your salad.

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In Italy, borage leaves are used to make Borage Pansotti, a delicious, traditional, triangular ravioli filled with borage and ricotta.

Here’s the recipe for the version I made – serve tossed in some lemon butter with a sprinkling of parmesan and a seasonal salad. Mine were more filling than pasta, but tasted wonderful nevertheless!

 

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To make about 25 ravioli

For the pasta:

110g plain flour

42g wheat or spelt flour

1/2 tsp olive oil

50ml cold water

Mix all the ingredients together then knead for at least 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Cover in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for an hour.

For the filling:

275g borage leaves

125g ricotta cheese

1/2 clove chopped garlic

1 beaten egg

pinch nutmeg

pinch salt

pinch pepper

25g finely grated parmesan cheese

 

Whilst the dough is resting, make the filling.

Blanch the washed borage leaves in boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes.

Rinse under cold water, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible – the easiest way is to wrap the cooked, cooled borage in a clean tea towel and squeeze.

Chop the borage very finely in a processer.

Add all the other ingredients, mix well.

Roll out the rested dough very thinly and cut into 2inch squares.

Place a tablespoon of the borage filling in the middle of each square, then fold and seal well.

Cook in boiling, salted water for about 3-5 minutes, until the ravioli float to the top of the pan.

Toss in butter and a tablespoon of lemon juice, or serve with a tomato sauce for a heartier supper.

borage pasta 2

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