Cooking with Borage
aka bee bread, starflower, hodan (Turkish), lisaan athaur (Arabic)
Description: This annual herb that grows wild in Southern Europe looks like something Alice would stumble upon in Wonderland. The 1 ½-foot-high branching, succulent, and hollow stems have white, stiff, prickly hairs and wrinkled, deep-green, oval leaves roughly three inches long. The flowers are bright blue and star-shaped, and hang in downward-facing clusters.
Flavor: The leaves have a cucumber-like fragrance and, when steeped in water, impart coolness and a faint cucumber flavor. The flowers are edible, though don’t add any flavor and are merely ornamental.
In the Kitchen: Borage leaves are best in salads, blended with cream cheese as a sandwich spread or used to garnish iced tea or lemonade. Borage flowers are an edible decoration that adds color to salads, soups, dips, and beverages. As with all edible flowers, use sparingly until you know how they affect you (borage is said to have a mild laxative effect).
In the Garden: Though it is considered an herb, it’s sometimes grown as a flower in vegetable gardens, where it attracts pollinating bees. It’s also an excellent companion plant for tomatoes, squash, cabbage, and strawberries helping to ward away harmful insects and worms.