When I announced that we were going to have risotto for lunch the other day, both my kids gave me funny looks and when I further commented on it containing nettles, their body language and facial expressions knew no bounds. I don’t know what induced me to want to make nettle risotto. There is nothing wrong with desiring to eat a nettle-based risotto, indeed nettles are so good for one’s health — so it’s not that. What I am reproaching myself for sharply is the hubris and sheer sillyness of preparing risotto when the weather outside is hot hot hot — the kind of heat that is not about ‘glistening’, or beads of perspiration but trickles of sweat! Who in their right mind would want to sweat out a risotto on a hot day? So I told everyone that this was going to be an Italian flag risotto : white rice, green nettles and red tomato. Football fever was in the air after Italy beat Germany into the European finals.
If you think you might one day want to make a nettle risotto, do by all means forge ahead and read this post with all its instructions and photos. If you are curious enough but can’t be bothered to read, then let me put you out of your misery and say that it turned out be quite nice actually … but for goodness sakes don’t follow my example and cook it in tropical heat conditions!
The nettles need to be rinsed and then cooked in water. Keep the water to use as stock. I added a carrot to the stock, which was a very dark green. I drained the nettles and used a pair of scissors to chop them up roughly. I used the same scissors to cut up some parma ham. I sautéed an onion and the ham in some olive oil, and then added the rice to ‘toast’ it for a few minutes. At that point I added a splodge of prosecco, let it evaporate and then poured in the first ladle of piping hot nettle stock. I stirred the rice until it absorbed the liquid before adding the next ladle … and so on and so forth for about 18-20 minutes until the rice was cooked. I seasoned with salt and pepper, then added a good dollop of butter, stirred the rice as if my arm were battery-powered, and, last, added lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese. I placed the lid on the risotto pan and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. I cut up some tomato as a garnish on top … and in order to re-create the tricolours of the Italian flag.