- 1 cup risotto rice
- 1 cup cooked, drained nettles or spinach (see below)
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2-3 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 4 cups stock (your choice)
Depending on your nettles' variety, you will need four or five big tong-fulls of fresh nettles to get a cup of cooked nettles. Common nettles (Urtica dioica) are more substantial than their more delicate cousins, the dwarf NettleNettle (Urtica urens), and retain more of their volume when cooked. I say tong-fulls because you should not n pick up fresh nettles, as they will sting you. Get a large pot of boiling water and add a tablespoon of salt.
Collect the nettles with tongs and put them into the boiling water. Stir around and boil for 2 minutes for dwarf nettles and about 4 minutes for common nettles. Remove the nettles using a skimmer or tongs and immediately immerse them into a big bowl with ice water. Once they are cool, move the nettles to a colander to drain. While draining, collect a cloth towel, like a tea towel, and put the nettles in it. Wrap one end of the towel one way, then the other end of the towel the other (like a candy wrapper), and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
Chop the nettles finely — don't use a food processor. The finer you chop, the smoother your risotto will be. Remove any stray stems.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucier or heavy pot set on medium-high to make the risotto. Wait until the butter stops frothing, and add the shallot. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the garlic and the rice and stir to combine. Stirring constantly, cook everything for a minute or until all the rice is well coated with butter.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt and your first cup of stock, and turn the heat high. Stir it into the rice. When it starts boiling, turn the heat to medium and stir at least every minute until the rice absorbs the stock. Add a second cup of stock.
After the second cup is absorbed, add the nettles and the third cup of stock. Stir well to combine. Keep stirring constantly to develop the creaminess in the risotto, and distribute the nettles evenly. Let the stock absorb.
Taste the risotto, and add salt if needed. It may require that fourth cup of stock, as you want the dish to be loose, not firm. At any rate, you will need at least a bit more stock to loosen the risotto for the cheese and the final tablespoon of butter, which you add now. Stir everything well and let the butter and cheese melt in the risotto for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring often. Serve at once.