This year in my garden, borage is coming up everywhere!
It’s a prolific self-seeder and I could always use it as green manure in my compost pile — but the bees love its flowers, which is reason enough to leave it alone.
I’ve had some bad luck with cabbage and cauliflower this year, and other crops have been inexplicably stunted while others have been growing normally. There’s always an element of mystery to the garden from year to year…I’ve noticed for years that there’s always a crop that fails and it’s just a question of which one it’ll be.
Borage is certainly not one of my failing crops this year. So in the spirit of eating what’s being effortlessly provided to me, I’ve gotten brave, picked those prickly leaves, and done some experimentation.
Now borage flowers are also edible, and they’re nice to nibble on while out in the garden, but I have mountains of borage leaves and I wanted to see if they could be a real, true, edible crop for me. And my conclusion is Yes.
I’ve been using the leaves in two ways — raw, in green smoothies, and steamed, added to other dishes.
I start each day with a green smoothie, heavy on the greens. I have always used cilantro, parsley, or a combo of the two, but I’ve been loving the borage as my green. Cilantro and parsley are strong flavors, but the borage is wonderfully mild, and I love its fresh cucumber taste. And even better than cucumbers, there’s no hint of bitterness whatsoever. The prickles on the leaves get pulverized, and there is no hint of mouth or throat irritation, which I had wondered about.
The raw borage leaves also freeze well and can be added to the smoothie directly from the freezer.
I use a good handful of borage each morning, and sometimes also some cilantro:
Borage leaves of any size can be steamed, but I like the small and medium size rather than the giant ones with larger prickles. The prickles do cook down into pretty much nothing (and they don’t irritate your mouth or throat when eaten), but even still I like the smaller leaves a little better.
I chop my borage leaves, and since I have Gastroparesis, I steam them for over an hour so they’re very, very tender.
If you don’t have a compromised stomach, feel free to steam them for a more normal length of time.
The color and taste of the steamed borage reminds me of steamed nettles. Dark color… mild taste… nothing exciting, but perfect for stirring into another dish that already has its own bold flavors, like minestrone soup, a vegetable stew, chili, maybe a lentil salad, or…Borage Burritos!
Borage Burritos (or Burrito Bowl)
Borage leaves, chopped and steamed
Brown rice or Millet, cooked
Your favorite jarred green chile sauce
Your favorite jarred salsa
Mexican-style seasoning, like Penzey’s Southwest, Fajita Seasoning, Arizona Dreaming, etc
Shredded cheese (or avocado bits)
Corn or flour tortilla (optional)
Combine the steamed borage leaves with an equal amount of cooked brown rice or millet.
(I like brown rice cooked very soft, so I use 1 cup rice to 3 cups water, cooked for 2 hours. I cook millet with that same 1:3 ratio, cooked for 1 hour.)
Stir in the green chile sauce, salsa, and Mexican seasoning to taste.
Heat up until nice and hot.
Stir in shredded cheese, sprinkle on cilantro.
Serve in a bowl, or wrapped in a warm corn or flour tortilla (which you can smother with more green chile sauce and cheese if you like).