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 pintborage 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
- Large knob of butter
- A handful of sage leaves
- Some grated cheese (optional)
- Place all the ingredients except the flowers for the stuffing into a food processor and blend until smooth:
- Knead together the ingredients for the dough to make a smooth dough. If too dry add a splash of water.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.