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BORAGE LEAVES RECIPES

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Basic Borage Info:

Borage (Borago officinalis) is an large herb with hair stems and leaves. The whole plant has a cucumber odor and flavor. Use the young leaves in green salads, seafood salads fruit salads and even fruit drinks. The leaves may also be cooked and served as for spinach. The flowers may also be used in salads or candied and used to decorate pastries and cakes.

Kokkari in San Francisco uses it for serving as a rustic cooking green, often mixing it with other cooking greens. Borage leaves can be cooked alone or with chard, spinach, nettles, etc and then chopped and stirred up with a bit of cheese and then you have a great ravioli filling. Delfina uses borage in a ravioli filling: Craig (Delfina's owner) asked Andy to grow borage: that's how we got started with it.

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Andy’s borage recipe information:

Elixir For Melancholy

Borage is considered a weed in many regions of the United States but, like so many agricultural “weeds,” borage has a long history in the old world as an edible green. I started growing borage as a crop because Craig Stoll asked me to. Craig Stoll is the Chef/owner at Delfina Restaurant and Delfina Pizzeria and he likes to use borage leaves in a rustic ravioli filling. When I had borage in excess I discovered that Eric Cosselman, chef at Kokkari Restaurant on Jackson at Front, likes to use borage as a cooked green to accompany fish dishes. Delfina serves Italian food and Kokkari serves Greek food so, while the menus may be quite different, their food is based on a shared heritage of Mediterranean ingredients, and both restaurants reach into a rural past for inspiration. Once upon a time starry flowered borage might have been gathered from meadows by peasant girls who spent their days making meals for their families. Nowadays everyone works and it’s a luxury for a busy urban professional to eat a peasant’s meal. I live in the country and I make my living from the land, so that makes me as much of a country mouse as anyone, but I don’t have any more time to lovingly recreate peasant recipes from the Mediterranean that the average city mouse does. One of these days I’m going to make it up to the big, modern City and eat some old fashioned weeds.

Occasionally I’ve taken borage to the farmers market to see if I can sell it to the public. I wouldn’t call borage a big seller, but the people who buy it are happy to find it. I’m always curious to learn how people use the crops I grow, and perhaps the most interesting recipe for borage was given me by a frequent market shopper named Jonathan Pearl. Unlike Delfina’s ravioli or Kokkari’s braised greens this recipe sounds easy enough for me to make. Jonathan didn’t give his recipe a name, so I’ll call it Jonathan’s Elixir For Melancholy.

Loosely pack a quart sized glass blender jar with fresh borage leaves and pour in enough dry vermouth to cover the leaves. Punch pulse and blend the borage until it’s a green soup. Let the concoction sit for four to six hours, then strain the liquid through cheese cloth. Pour off the resulting liqueur into a bottle and refrigerate. Jonathan describes the elixir as being an amazing and invigorating antidote to melancholy when taken in moderation. Who doesn’t need a cure for melancholy now and then?

Jonathan’s recipe may not sound like it has much in common with the food from Delfina or Kokkari, but he’s reaching back into Mediterranean history for his inspiration too. Borage is native to Syria. Many foods got their start in tradition because of real or imagined therapeutic values, and there was a time when, instead of a list of ingredients and a surgeon general’s warning on the side of the package many herbs were understood to have spiritual and healing properties. An old Latin verse goes:

Ego Borago
Gaudia semper ago.

That would be, “I, borage, bring always courage.”

Jonathan Pearl is an astrologer. His business card reads “Traditional Astrologer: Insights. Predictions. Remedies.” He might add “recipes” to that list as well. His interest in borage was prompted by The Anatomy Of Melancholy, a text on astrology by Robert Burton that had an engraving of borage in the corner of the title page of the third edition, published in 1658. For more information on the astrological implications of borage contact Jonathan Pearl at www.starpearls.com

 


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