Risotto With Nettles and Carrots

— by Miriam Kresh

Rice goes well with the unique, dark flavor of nettles. I was thinking of that this morning when putting away a bunch of dried nettles into glass jars. So I made this risotto. With the melting flavors of vegetables and cheese and the slight chewiness of arborio rice, it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve cooked this week. The nettles warm the body and give you energy, too.

The full recipe after the jump.
Any of the edible weeds can substitute for nettles, or you can use chard, kale, or spinach. But try nettles, if you’ve gathered some.

Now I know that classical risotto starts with dry white wine — well, I didn’t have any. So I substituted a couple of tablespoons of vodka in a quarter-cup measure, and filled it up with vegetable stock. Risotto calls for Parmesan cheese — I made do with the standard Israeli “yellow cheese,” grated. I would have been divine with Parmesan, but was still very good.

Vegetable Stock
yield: 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, thickly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk of celery, with leaves, chopped
  • 1 carrot, thickly sliced
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes (or one medium-sized regular tomato), halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 3 cups of water
  • a tiny pinch of saffron

Method:

  1. Bring the above ingredients to a boil, then lower the flame to simmer the broth. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the carrot slices from the stock. Allow to cool a little, then chop them into chunks. Set aside.
  3. Risotto classically starts with a good cup of white wine, but I didn’t have any. So I put about 3 tablespoons of vodka in a 1/2-cup measure and filled it up with vegetable stock.  I could have simply used stock, but I felt like vodka. If you have white wine, though, use it.

Risotto With Nettles and Carrots
serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup risotto rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cup fresh nettles, or 1/2 cup dried
  • the carrot slices out of the stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese, preferably Parmesan
  • salt
  • more butter and Parmesan

Method:

  1. Chop the nettles. Mine were dry and crisp, so I found it easier to cut them up with scissors.
  2. Put the olive oil into a medium-sized pot. Add the chopped onion, and start to cook it over medium heat. The onion should cook till translucent, not at all brown.
  3. Add the rice and stir, allowing it to absorb the oil as much as possible but not allowing it to brown.
  4. Add the wine (or substitute), and stir. Watch the rice – the liquid should be absorbed before the next steps. The rice will be only partly cooked.
  5. Add a cupful of vegetable stock; stir. Let it almost become absorbed.
  6. Add another cupful of stock; stir and do the same. The rice will be somewhat soupy at this point. Taste, and adjust the salt if you need to.
  7. Add the chopped nettles and the carrot chunks; stir, of course.
  8. Add the last of the stock. Stir and let the rice cook another 5 minutes.
  9. Add the tablespoon of butter and the cheese. Stir well and serve as soon as the cheese has melted.
  10. Add more butter and cheese at the table, if desired.

So comforting, so good! We ate it down to the last grain.

Miriam Kresh is the creator of Israeli Kitchen.  
© Miriam Kresh

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