Nettle risotto

A recipe from the spring.

I know that nettles are supposed to be tasty and nutritious and free, but I’ve always struggled with the recipes that I’ve tried, usually ending up with something that looks wrong. But the scent of blanched nettles suggests an affinity with gooseberries, elderflowers, mackerel, and a wonderful hint of spring. I was out foraging for seaweed on the day I made this. At the end of the walk, I scrambled up a bank of dried kelp and pebbles, then silverweed, and then a great abundance of freshly sprouting spring nettles. 

When I got home, I blanched my pickings of nettle tops, and found I had 75g, enough to make myself a tasty wee risotto for one. You could easily multiply up for more.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 mild onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lovage sprig, finely chopped (leaves not the stem)
  • 25g butter
  • 75-100g blanched nettle tops, finely chopped
  • 100g arborio rice
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 300ml hot vegetable stock (I used marigold bouillon)
  • 1 oz parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Fry the onion in the butter until it is soft and nearly browning.
  • Add the chopped nettles and chopped lovage, and stir in, frying, for a minute.
  • Add the rice, keep stirring and frying, until the rice looks glazed and shiny.
  • Pour in a glass of wine, and bring to the boil.
  • Slowly add the stock, bringing to the boil and waiting until the stock is absorbed before adding more.
  • Once the rice is tender, but still a little firm, add the salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Stir in, cover, and leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.

Could you serve fish with this? Not sure. It was very good on its own.