Stinging nettle risotto

This is my favourite risotto. It has a plenty, but also soft and delicate flavour. Can’t describe this cheap but truly sophisticated dish – you have to cook it and enjoy for yourselves!

You will need (for two people):

200-250 g fresh stinging nettles (just the top part)

2 and a half espresso cups of risotto rice (Carnaroli)

half an onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

meat bouillon or, if you don’t have it, a teaspoon of home-made meat stock cube

a glass of white wine

salt, extra virgin olive oil

Parmesan and double cream for topping

It is made like a normal risotto:

0. Prepare the nettles: wash very carefully (because they will sting you, and because they need an accurate washing) and boil them in salty water. Then strain and squeeze them with your hands (they won’t sting you any more! :D). Chop very finely.

1. Make a soffritto with olive oil and the chopped onion and garlic. When browning, add the nettles and allow them to cook for five minutes, stirring every so often. Add now the stock cube, if you are using it.

2. Add the rice, stir and leave some minutes to roast. Pour the wine, stir again and allow to dry.

3. Cook at least 15 minutes, until ready, by pouring hot bouillon and water. When semi-cooked, taste and add the salt.

4. Turn off the fire and leave your risotto to rest for a couple of minutes. Serve with generous Parmesan and cream.

I’m sure you’ll love it!

Home-made veg stock cube

My mother had never bought industrial cubes. Once a year she makes this veg stock to put in little pots and to use all year round to make soffritto, stock for risotto, and so more.

The advantages? Lots.

1) Natural. No glutamate and other chemical aromas.

2) Perfect to make natural-flavoured dishes. Only veg flavour, not modified. More easy than buying and chopping carrots, celery and herbs almost every day.

3) Cheaper than industrial stock cube and high-quality.

4) Ecologic: no packaging, only second-use glass pots.

So, that’s the recipe.

These are my mother’s doses – with these amounts you can offer some pots to your family or friends; otherwise, it’s better to reduce them.

1 kg carrots

1 kg onions

1 kg parsley

1 kg fine salt

700 g celery

2 head of garlic

a handful of basil

a handful of sage

a handful of rosemary

Clean, wash, and dry off a bit all the vegs. Then chop them together very finely (it’s better to do it in the blender). Mix very well the chopped vegs with the salt, and allow the mixture to rest for 24 hours (in a very large bowl or over some dish towels) for the juices to dry off a bit. After this time, arrange the mixture in pots. While filling the pots, be careful not to leave air bubbles: press well with a fork and sometimes bang the bottom of the pot against the table.

Arrange the pots in the larder; when you open a pot, store it in the fridge.

See also: Home-made meat stock cube.