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The Resilience Sessions: Stinging Nettle Risotto

Each week, OmVed Gardens and Chefs Manifesto chef Arthur Potts-Dawson is joined by a guest chef to discuss a resilient ingredient within their particular food culture.

Each chef cooks with their chosen ingredient, connecting to their localised food systems, cultural food history and migration of food and people. In this instalment, Arthur cooks with and talks about stinging nettles.

This event was hosted by the Chefs Manifesto London Action Hub, OmVed Gardens.

Stinging Nettle Risotto

  • 1.1 litres/2 pints vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • A knob of butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 head of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 400g/14oz risotto rice
  • 2 wine glasses of dry white vermouth (dry martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 70g/ 2oz butter
  • 115g/4oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Pick 400g of fresh nettle tops (wearing rubber gloves) wash them and drain the water. Boil a large pot of salted water and put the washed nettles into the boiling water. Cook for 90 seconds and strain. In a high speed blender puree the nettles to a smooth paste.
  2. Heat the stock. Put the olive oil and butter into a separate pan, add the onion, garlic and celery and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. This is called a sofrito. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
  3. The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring – it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.
  4. Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladle fulls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice to check if it’s cooked, If not, carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
  5. Remove from heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place the lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes amazingly creamy and oozy like it should be. Add the nettle puree and eat it as soon as possible, while it retains its beautiful texture.