It’s been such a lovely week here in Wiltshire that I’ve been out and about foraging. There’s something really rewarding about picking your own leaves and herbs and turning them into instant dishes. I mean you don’t get much fresher than that and wild leaves tend to have more concentrated vitamins and minerals making them a fabulous addition to your diet.
I got a good batch of stringing nettle tops ( Urtica dioica) and dandelion leaves Taraxacum officinale.
When picking foods in the wild always make sure you know what you are picking and check identification if you are unsure. Pick from an area that is unpolluted and discard any leaves with bird droppings etc.
Both nettles and dandelions contain antioxidants protecting against cell damage and oxidative stress. Dandelions may also help fight inflammation, one of the precursors to disease. They are both rich in vitamins and minerals. These two articles will explain more if you’re interested
Having picked these vitamin rich goodies I went straight into the kitchen and made a risotto for supper and will be making soup with my left overs.
2 tbs spoon Olive Oil
1 Onion chopped
750 ml hot Vegetable stock
150ml While Wine
25g Fresh herbs chopped – I used a mix of mint, oregano, parsley
240g arborio rice
80g Green beans sliced(I used flat runner beans)
For the Vitamin rich green element
50g Dandelion Leaves
½ tsp Wild Garlic salt (or use normal salt and add 2 garlic cloves to the risotto as it cooks)
50ml Olive oil
Splash white wine (if you need to loosen it)
25g parmesan cheese grated – optional
Heat the oil in a medium-sized heavy-based pan. Add the onion and cook over a low heat until it is softened and sweet. It will become translucent.
Add the arborio rice and stir well to coat the rice. Cook for a minute before adding the wine. Increase the heat a little and stir with a wooden spoon until most of the white wine has been absorbed.
Add the stock a ladel at a time and lower slightly the heat. Continue until all stock is absorbed and rice is still slightly al dente but cooked.
Add the peas and green beans and continue to cook for 5 mins to heat through.
While the risotto cooks, pick over the dandelion leaves and nettles to make sure they are all clean. Wash them well in a colander over the sink then pour boiling water over them. Leave to cool a little then squeeze any excess water off the leaves. Use rubber gloves for this as you may still be stung!
Add the wilted leaves, wild garlic salt and olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add a splash of white wine if it needs loosening up a bit.
Taste and season accordingly.
Pour all of the nettle and dandelion puree onto the risotto rice and stir well to combine.
Add the grated parmesan cheese if you are using it.
Divide between four bowls. Top with shavings of parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.