About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008
Nettle & Porcini Risotto

One consequence of the lifestyle that modern man lives, is that we have lost touch to a greater extent with wild foods that are all around, though possibly mushrooming is one exception. From time to time, one notices people foraging on paddocks or verges, clutching plastic bags that they place freshly plucked greens into. It might be dandelions, fennel or dill and if you see them wearing gloves, nettles might be finding their way into the bag.

Nettles are surprisingly common in many gardens, especially vegetable patches and it is not necessary to look very far for them, but very necessary to wear gloves, as they have stinging spines all over the leaves and stems. It is widely reported that nettles have many health benefits, but the main attraction for me is that they are free.

Their flavour is very mild and even though the leaves wilt down when cooked, they add a lovely texture to many dishes, especially soups. Another possibility is risotto, a dish that has had all manner of ingredients thrown in, but sometimes, simple things give the best results.

Nettle & Porcini Risotto
(serves 4)

50g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup risotto rice
100g nettles, leaves only, washed and rinsed
100ml white wine
10g dried porcini, soaked and chopped, soak water reserved
1.5l chicken stock, homemade preferably, simmering in a pot
100g grated pecorino Romano

Melt 25g butter in a pot, add the onion and garlic and sweat for a few minutes. When softened, add the rice and stir for two minutes to coat the rice with the butter. Add the nettles and white wine and cook until the wine is absorbed, then add the porcini along with the soaking water and a ladle of the simmering chicken stock. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, adding a ladle of the stock every time it is absorbed, until the rice is done to your liking, about 15-20 minutes. If you run out of stock, use simmering water instead. Stir in the remaining butter, pecorino Romano and season to taste.
  posted at 9:22 am

At 10:34 am, Blogger Thermomixer said...

Another recipe of course is Wild Weed Pie - the recipe appears in Janni Kyritsis' book of that name. Purslane and samphire are others on offer. It would be great to have herbes de provence growing wild.

At 12:17 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

My son is always on the look out for free food like this. Have to ask if he knows nettles. We did pecans & figs walking the Dallas neighborhood and figs & peaches in Portland.
So now I need to go nettle hunting - safer than mushrooming ;0)

At 12:24 pm, Blogger stickyfingers said...

I look forward to nettle season and it seems that they are now gathering quite a following at Farmers Markets.

We often eat our winter nettles in the same way that I cook Amaranth - blanched and then tossed briefly with some fried minced garlic and sesame oil with a sprinkle of salt, or blanched and drizzled with lemon infused Olive oil. It's also lovely with roasted beetroot and fetta or za'atar crusted labneh, with a little pomegranate molasses to dress it.

At 2:44 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi thermomixer, Janni was a bit of a late starter in restaurant kitchens , but I bet he knew all about wild food from his home country of Greece, where it is still traditional to pick such things.

Hi tanna, isn't it so great to just forage and get such great produce. Bet your son knows about nettles.

Hi sticky, my wife actually doesn't look forward to the nettle season as she thinks they are fit only for pig food. Every time her sister's nettles start to grow, she tells her to weed them out, so I can't get to them, shocking but true. Anyway, last night, I cooked a dish with nettles that she really liked.

At 8:06 pm, Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I have to admit that I have never eaten nettles. Not avoiding them, just haven't had the opportunity. Do they taste like spinach, or like chard?

At 5:20 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a nice blog...keep up the good job:)

At 8:06 am, Blogger purple goddess said...

Mmmmmm. nettles...

We're off down the beach house this weekend, where all the Greeks gather then from the Crown Land.

I foresee this recipe featuring on this weekends menu.

Thanks, Neil.

At 10:45 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi lydia, they are nowhere near as strongly flavoured as those two. Think more braised lettuce flavour, it's very mild, funny for something that grows wild, but I suppose with all those stings to protect the plant, it doesn't need to be bitter.

Hi sorina, thank you for your kind words.

Hi pg, I'm sure you'll love it. It's kinda nice foraging and then using up the bounty.

At 2:02 pm, Blogger Anh said...

hmm, yum! I had risotto yesterday, too. The seafood one though... I love using porcini in risotto. Your recipe is something I would love to try.

At 10:06 am, Blogger Dani said...

I love foraging. I've noticed nettles for sale at farmer's markets this year. I can't come at paying for them. It's very competitive around here. Lot's of elderly Greeks vying for the nettles, dandelions and olives (planted all along the nature strips).

At 1:40 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi anh, I think porcini were invented just to go in risotto and is one of my faves along with pea risotto.

Hi dani, kick 'em out the way and make sure you get your share!


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