A good knob of butter, garlic and lemon juice to take away the sting!
The nettle season has sprung into life with the recent blast of sunshine. Most of us know nettles are edible as we have seen nettle tea in supermarkets and heard of nettle soup, but there is something about the word ‘stinging’ which appears in front of their name that I guess puts most of us off!
This weekend I embraced my fears, put on the rubber gloves, welly boots, armed myself with a pair of scissors and a little trug and took to the hedgerows gathering.
I cut about 80 tips of nettle, each with three or four sweet leaves and stinging froths still intact. I was not 100% sold on the idea as I remembered falling off my bike into a large patch of nettles when I was about 22. I stung from my ear to my ankle on my left side. It hurt for about six hours and tingled for another 24 but cooking nettles in a splash of good quality olive oil, mashed garlic, a knob of salty butter and squeeze of lemon completely takes the sting away.
If you like your greens, enjoy spinach, curly kale, blanched and raw then give it a try, I promise I enjoyed every sweet mouthful.
- Pick around 80-100 young nettle tips. Give them a wash in a colander.
- 30g butter
- 4 cloves of garlic
- lemon zest – see below
- 1 onion /1 carrot / 2 sticks of celery – peeled, sliced and diced
- An extra 30g of butter
- 1 pint chicken stock
- Small glass of dry white wine
- 150g risotto rice
- ½ lemon, zest for the nettles and juice for the risotto
- 65g parmesan cheese grated – keep a little back for garnish
- 50g roasted pine kernels
In a heavy-based pan fry the diced onion, carrot and celery for a couple of minutes in 30g of butter and add the risotto rice, stir to coat and slowly add the white wine, chicken stock about a ¼ pint at a time, stirring to keep the risotto from sticking.
When all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is nearly cooked, stir in the mascarpone, the pine kernels, squeeze of lemon juice and parmesan cheese.
Taste and season. In a cast iron saucepan melt the remaining butter and when frothy chuck in the minced garlic. Allow to cook for about one minute and then add the nettles, allow to sweat down like spinach for about three minutes.
When I ate it the nettle leaves were still visible (ask your partner to try it first!). The leaf still had a little bite and was most defiantly not a mush . Add the lemon zest, season with good quality sea salt flakes. Garnish with a splash of olive oil and the last sprinkle of the parmesan cheese.
Roero Arneis Camestri 2010 Marco Porello Piedmont Italy is a delicious white wine, with clean citrus and apple flavours and a touch of minerality and is a refreshing change to sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. Good to match the nettles flavours.
Some of the fields around Piedmont produce risotto rice so one of the local wines seems to me like an ideal match for this dish!
You can also read this on the Wales Online website – Click Here.
Photo by marfis75
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