The feel-good-factor of a forage in the back garden is hard to beat, especially when it adds justification for a neglect of weeds!
I’ve made a variation of the nettle risotto I mentioned in the first foraging post. I wanted to make the most of our wild garden produce so I added ransom (wild garlic), just before the pretty flowers are over and used some apple juice we put in the freezer last autumn. The bacon didn’t come from the garden, but from our Riverford Meat Box (mushrooms from Riverford too). It was eaten at its hot best so sorry there’s no picture of the finished risotto but if you’d like to see the recipe, click the read more button.
6 rashers organic bacon (with some fat, if not streaky) - cook in a cast iron frying pan with no extra fat, until crispy. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
1 medium onion – finely chopped – fry in the residual bacon fat over low heat until softened.
150g risotto rice (eg arborio, carnaroli) – add to the pan when the onion’s softened. Stir.
500g chicken / veg stock (I added apple juice to mine) – bring to simmer in another pan while the onion’s softening.
25ml dry white wine – add to the pan and heat until the liquid has more-or-less gone.
40g (2 gloved generous handfuls) young stinging nettle leaves – washed and added to the stock pan to simmer for 30 seconds before lifting out and blending to a rough puree ready to add to the risotto 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
Keep adding hot stock to the rice a ladle at a time and keep stirring.
After about 15 minutes of cooking the rice, add the nettle puree, a handful of chopped mushrooms (if you like) and 50g parmesan – grated.
Season to taste.
The risotto is ready when the rice is just al-dente. I stirred in 5 chopped stems of ransom flowers and the crispy bacon – broken up, just before serving. Top with more parmesan and ransom flowers for garnish, if they’re available. (The taste of the flowers and stems is of very mild garlic; the leaves are stronger – good to use too).