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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Wild Food of the Month: March

Here comes part 3 of my popular series of wild foods of the month. As I had said, I was going to feature the Judas tree, but I have to find one first, so today I'll be talking about something slightly less exotic, borage. I know for many of you it's simply a garden plant, but here it grows everywhere in abundance and it's at it's best right now.

Many of you will know it as a salad ingredient. Pick the young leaves and the pretty blue flowers of this plant. The leaves are rather hairy and coarse so need to be chopped finely. They also make nice additions to refreshing summer drinks or are good as a tea. However I would like to introduce you with my favourite way of eating borage, as a stuffing to ravioli as what the Italians call ravioli al borragine. It makes seasonal appearances on restaurant menus here and is usually quite expensive. I've never looked at a recipe of it, but came up with my own version, which follows here:


For the stuffing:

  • 1 pint borage leaves, plus a handful of flowers
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 100g hard cheese, i.e. Parmesan or Grana Padano or a mild pecorino, but not too mature otherwise it will mask the delicate flavour of the borage
  • 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs
  • Pepper and a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil to taste

For the pasta dough:

  • 100g white flour (grade 00) per person plus 100g extra if anyone wants seconds!
  • 1 egg per 100g flour
  • Pinch of salt and a touch of olive oil

To serve:

  • Large knob of butter
  • A handful of sage leaves
  • Some grated cheese (optional)


    1. Place all the ingredients except the flowers for the stuffing into a food processor and blend until smooth:

    1. Knead together the ingredients for the dough to make a smooth dough. If too dry add a splash of water.

    1. In batches roll out the dough as thinly as possible. If you have a pasta machine, use it, I unfortunately don’t. Cut dough into rectangles of about 3x4cm. Don’t worry if some are a bit bigger or misshapen. Into each rectangle place a dollop of the stuffing.

    1. Brush the edge of each rectangle (trangle, trapeze, strange wobbly shape...) with some water and stick together to form a little pasta pocket enclosing the filling. Set aside. This part of the job is a bit fiddly so give yourself plenty of time.
    2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. In the meantime gently heat the butter in a frying and fry the fresh sage leaves until crispy. Drop the ravioli into the boiling water. Once they float to the surface, which should only take a couple of minutes, they are ready. Taste one to make sure. Drain the ravioli and serve with the sage butter, the reserved borage flowers and, if you like, some grated cheese

It is delicious, but it ain't half fiddly. I stood in the kitchen for 2 hours. I don't know why I keep doing it, we didn't even have guests to impress with this. Those photos should also show everyone why I could never be a chef. Presentation has never been my strong point, I'm mostly concerned that it tastes good.


jann said...

This is an absolutely amazing recipe. (Do I sense a cookbook in the making?) And anyone who has the patience to make pasta by hand is a hero in my book.

chaiselongue said...

Ooh, these sound good. I made a similar dish last year, only with filo pastry instead of pasta dough, which makes it easier ... if you buy the filo pastry, as I did! Borage is such a beautiful plant. Soon it will be flowering here all along the edges of the vineyards - thanks for reminding me that we have that pleasure to come soon!

Mr. H. said...

Your borage stuffed pasta sounds divine. This was a very timely post as we will be growing borage for the first time this year...now I know what to do with it.

I agree with Jann, perhaps a Dutch/Italian cookbook with a flare for wild edibles is in order?:)

Ayak said...

Well you might not have had anyone to impress in person...but I'm impressed as I'm sure are your other readers! There's always something in your posts that jumps out and makes me smile...in this case "Brush the edge of each rectangle (triangle, trapeze, strange wobbly shape...).

I'm smiling because I too can never make things exactly the right shape!

Heiko said...

A cookbook? Hmmm... I must get more organised in actually writing recipes down. Half the time I come up with a new creation it's determined by what I happen to find in the cupboard / larder / field / fridge / yesterday's left overs. And Susan will ask me whether I can re-create the dish, but by the time we're eating I've already forgotten what went in it.

Oh and Chaiselongue, the photo of the borage above was taken in a vineyard. You can just make out the stem of a vine in the background.

Anna said...

Heiko, these ravioli with borragine looks great, complimenti!
they make me hungry...if you like walnuts, try them with walnut sauce..the recipe of the sauce is very simple and it takes a little time to do it. If you like this is the link with the recipe http://beautiful-liguria-2.blogspot.com/2010/02/walnut-sauce-salsa-di-noci.html

Heiko said...

Hi Anna, yes I know salsa di noci. Good idea, that would have been lovely on those ravioli.

Kelly said...

Oh my, does that look delicious!!

Contadina said...

Hi Heiko,

I've just stumbled across your blog and was instantly drawn to your recipe for ravioli al borragine as our borragine is rampant this year. I live a lot further south than you in Puglia, so it's interesting for me to check out the similarities and differences. Great blog. Keep up the good work. If you want to check out my ramblings about living off the land down in the heel, you can find me here http://contadina.wordpress.com/