The Daily Telegraph - Saturday
Nettle emerges in and tastes of spring; minerally and grassy, the young tips can be used in a wide range of savoury and sweet dishes. Autumn often brings a second flush of growth: gather the top leaves, wilt and squeeze into balls to freeze. If you have access to a foraging spot like Battersea and can collect wild garlic leaves, add them to the green leaves in this emerald spring risotto.
INGREDIENTS 200g nettle tips (or 100g of both nettle and wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 knob of butter ½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 400g carnaroli or arborio rice 1 glass of white wine 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock 30g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
h Heat a pan of water until boiling, and drop the nettle leaves into the boiling water for 30 seconds, making sure that all the leaves are submerged. Remove from the water and place the nettles into a bowl of ice cold water to cool, before draining and squeezing out any water. h Place the blanched nettles into a food processor with the wild garlic, if you are using it. Add half a tablespoon of oil to the leaves and purée until smooth; set aside to use later. h Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the rest of the oil, chopped onion and garlic and gently cook until the onion has softened. Add the rice and sauté for a minute until translucent. h Pour in the wine and stir into the rice. Slowly start adding the stock, pouring in a little and adding more once it has been absorbed by the rice. Keep stirring the rice until it is cooked through (add more stock if the risotto looks too dry). h Turn off the heat and vigorously stir in the nettle purée, grated Parmesan, season, and garnish with hawthorn leaves, and edible flowers such as speedwell, dead nettle or wild garlic before serving.
Liz Knight points out that you can use hops instead of nettles for this recipe