Spring recipes from Umbria
Cook what you find on the meadows
"Erba cotta" - grass to eat
From February onwards in the meadows around La Rogaia there are many plants whose leaves are a wonderful addition to our daily diet: dandelion, arugula, poppies, calendula, plantain, borage. Young and tender, their leaves are suitable for salads - or when the leaves are slightly harder - for "Erba cotta" (cooked grass).
Wash well the leaves and boil them softly with very little water and a little salt. Then drain them, let them cool and press out the water. This is done best by forming palm-sized balls and squeezing them. Chop them very finely. The "erba cotta" can be used for ravioli fillings (see below). Or heat a little olive oil and coarsely chopped garlic in a pan and sautee the "grass" for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper and serve drizzled with lemon juice as an accompaniment to meat or fish.
By the way: The balls of "erba cotta" can be easily deepfrozen. Then you can enjoy the pleasures of spring a little longer...
Borage grows everywhere in our garden and on the meadows. It gets up to one meter high. The blue flowers are very decorative in salads or desserts. Borage is rich in vitamin C and potassium and contains the coveted omega fatty acids, good for the heart.
But even if it were only half as healthy: Borage is more aromatic than spinach or chards and therefore Ornella's borage-ricotta ravioli are even better than the usual spinach-ricotta ravioli.
Ravioli with borage and ricotta
For 4 persons
Ingredients for the dough: 500 g flour, 5 eggs.
For the filling: 500 g ricotta, 500 g borage, 1 egg, salt, grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese (to taste).
Strip the the borage leaves off the stem (you might want to use gloves, borage has itchy hairs ...). Wash the leaves and blanch them in boiling salted water. Let them drain and cool, squeeze them and finely chop them. Mix with the ricotta, the egg, a little salt, the grated Parmesan (or pecorino) cheese and mix well. You may add pepper and nutmeg but they may cover the natural taste of the borage.
If you have plenty of time (or a pasta making machine) you can make a pasta dough out of 500 g of flour and 5 eggs. Roll out the pasta into thin sheets. Otherwise, just buy fresh lasagna sheets which will work equally well. Take a glass or ravioli molds to punch out the dough circles. Place a spoonful of the filling in the middle. Fold the circles and press the edges well. Cook for a few minutes in salted water until al dente. Serve the ravioli immediately either with melted butter and sage or with a light tomato basil sauce and freshly grated Parmesan (or pecorino) cheese on top.
By the way, you can also fill crepes (in Italian "crespelle") with borage and ricotta. Place the filled and rolled crepes in a buttered dish, sprinkle them with Parmesan or pecorino cheese and bake them in the oven.
Our spring cookery class with Ornella
Feel like going with Ornella to graze the meadows and collect grass for a delicious meal?
From April 13 to 20, 2019 we have the first cooking class with Ornella of this year.
Learn how to prepare:
- “Erba cotta” for delicious Ravioli fillings
- Exciting spring pasta variations
- Delicate "Pollo ruspante" (chicken)
- "Tagliata" from organic beef
- Risotto with wild asparagus
- Fresh fish and many more specialities of the Umbrian and Tuscan cuisine
So do not worry, you will not just have "grass" to eat.
And truffles can be found also in the spring. So we will of course have our popular truffle hunt with wine tasting.
You can find more information about our cookery class here