It’s springtime!! The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the grass is growing…. and so are the nettles. Just looking at them makes me think ‘ouch.’ Like most folk, childhood experiences run deep.
I never knew until a few years ago that you could actually cook them. And they make such a wonderful green! Just remember you need to put some sturdy gloves on before you go out collecting them.
I love a good risotto; I love its creamy textures. And you can change the flavourings around and get an entirely different meal! This recipe with nettles, vegetables and parmesan comes from my friend James, who I met several years ago at uni. Now he runs a catering company in Wagga, and he generously shares this seasonal and wonderful recipe with us here.
The sting can be removed by briefly blanching the nettles in boiling water. You’ll need to end up with about 3 handfuls of blanched nettles, so pick a good-sized bunch of them.
Stinging Nettle Risotto
Bring a pot of water to the boil and briefly blanch the stinging nettles, thus negating the sting. Drain and keep the water for use in the risotto if required.
Make a quick clear chicken stock or use Massel Chicken Stock cubes or powder. You’ll need around 2 litres.
Sweat off 2 finely diced onions, 3 or 4 finely sliced celery sticks and 6 finely sliced garlic cloves in a liberal amount of olive oil.
Add 250g of Arborio rice (about 1 1/4 cups of dry rice). Keep it moving until the rice starts to go a little opaque, not brown! add more olive oil if necessary.
Add stock, ladle by ladle, waiting for each ladle to be absorbed, moving the rice continually with a wooden spoon. If you run out of stock, use the blanching water.
When your risotto is thick and creamy and your rice is al dente, stir through up to 125g of grated parmesan to taste and then stir through a few good handfuls of chopped nettles. Season with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Remove from heat and serve with extra nettles on the side and a couple of parmesan crisps!
AND a bonus Secret Ingredient – if you think that your dish needs salt, add a few good glugs of fish sauce!
James provides catering around the South West Slopes, the Riverina and Mt Hotham in the Victorian Alps. You can find him on his website, JamesVickersCatering.com.au.