When I was young, I spent every summer in the Abruzzo countryside with my grandparents, running around free and climbing trees for fun. There wasn't a day that we’d come home without muddy clothes, scraped knees or nettle rashes. Damn nettles. In Italy, we call them ‘ortica’ and kids hate them. I would never have believed that -thirty years on- I would be happily wandering around a field and collecting the detested -and painful- leaves for my supper.
This week, we’re in the valley of Villard-sur-Chamby in Switzerland, where Jo’s family owns an amazing chalet. It’s an enchanted place where time seems to have stopped and nature surrounds you at 360 degrees.
This afternoon, I noticed that growing under the hedges in the garden was a mass of wild garlic, which I absolutely love. And of course, as in every corner of the planet, it was also full of evil nettles. The solution came immediately: wild garlic and nettle risotto. Killer combination.
I called Olivia, my irreplaceable sous chef, and after twenty minutes foraging, we had plenty and were ready to start cooking. The only thing we needed was a bit of sharpness to lift the earthiness of the herbs, but we found a handful of redcurrants in the kitchen, which did the job perfectly.
Dinner was eaten outside on the terrace, listening to cowbells and surrounded by the ingredients we were eating.
Wild garlic and nettle risotto
wild garlic 300g
nettle leaves 150g
Carnaroli rice 250g
celery 1 stick
half a nutmeg
dried chilli a good pinch
olive oil plenty
redcurrants a handful
Prepare a vegetable stock by boiling the carrots, celery and onion in a saucepan of water.
Roughly chop the wild garlic and the nettles. Keep a few leaves of the garlic aside for later.
In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil and melt the butter. Add the wild garlic and the nettles, then cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Grate in the nutmeg, then add the crushed redcurrants and dried chilli. Season.
Add the rice and stir for one minute, then continue to cook by adding a ladle of stock every now and then until the rice is creamy, the stock is absorbed and the dish is ready.
Garnish with fresh chopped wild garlic and a few redcurrants. Serve with family, mountains and a bottle of red.