Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Spring Leaves 3 Nettle Risotto - Vegan recipe

 For those who don't eat animal products, a creamy effect can be got by cooking a potato with the rice. This is not unusual in the south of Italy, where rich grazing is harder to come by. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or with toasted sunflower seeds for an extra tang and a protein boost.


  • 2 litres of young, fresh nettles
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 1 litre good vegetable stock (I usually add a teaspoon of marmite to my stock)
  • 1 glass white wine or fino sherry. Bramble or a rich dandelion wine is good for this  
  • 300 g short-grain rice. Arborio is best for this.
  • I small potato, peeled and cut into pieces
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh chives or parsley, chopped
  • Poppy seeds, or toasted sunflower seeds
Fill the sink or a washing bowl with cold water. Wearing rubber gloves, submerge the nettles. Wash thoroughly, changing the water once or twice.
Strip the leaves from the stalks. Discard stalks.
Shake excess water from leaves, place in a pan with a pinch of salt, and cook briskly until leaves are soft and quantity has reduced.
Drain liquid from nettles into the vegetable stock.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the chopped onion. Soften over low heat until translucent.
Press the last drops of liquid out of the nettles into the stock.
Peel the potato, cut it into quarters, and add to the vegetable stock.
Transfer the stock to a saucepan and simmer.
Chop the drained nettles, add them to the onion, and cook for one minute on a low heat, stirring constantly.
Add the rice to the onion and nettle. Cook on a low heat until the edges of the rice grains begin to turn pearly.
Stir in the wine.
Using a ladle or slotted spoon, transfer the pieces of potato from the stock pan to the rice.
Ladle enough liquid from the stock pan onto the rice and potato to just cover it. Stir gently. As the rice absorbs the stock, keep adding a ladleful at a time. You need to stir the rice and potato pieces enough to prevent sticking, but not so much you break them.
When all the liquid has been absorbed the rice will be plump and fluffy and the potato pieces cooked. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with black pepper, the chopped green herbs, and the poppy or sunflower seeds.
Traditionally, a risotto ‘rests’ for a minute after this before it is served.
Serves 4.

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